Syrian refugees build community connections

November 23, 2017

With the increasing number of Syrian refugees arriving in Canada, schools, community centres, and recreational programs have become important sites for refugee children and youth to start to get to know their new home, feel safe and adjust to big changes in their lives. Say Ça is a Montreal-based organization, providing community leadership programming that includes free tutoring, mentoring, and cultural outings to Syrian youth who arrived in Canada as refugees.

After participating in Speaking Rights Training, Say Ça staff began to rethink how they could engage youth in their new community in more concrete ways. They made important shifts in their programming, and started to include activities that went beyond language skills to help build Syrian youth’s critical thinking, communication skills, and ability to more actively participate.

Youth were given the opportunity to create their own Community Action Project. They decided they wanted to connect more with their community through an intercultural exchange about their needs, interests, and culture and also show their curiosity and resilience. Youth learned how to facilitate Speaking Rights activities and as part of “Restaurant Day” they hosted a booth in the park where they led games, cooked and shared food, dancing and music, to start a dialogue with community members. For many of the youth it was a first real chance to show that they can be leaders here too and that they have something important to contribute to the new communities they live in.

Youth also participated in the RBC Speaker Series on building inclusive and welcoming communities and stole the show at the Montreal Community Action Projects celebration event.