EDITORIAL: Refugees add value to our communities

Misconception that refugees are a drain on the system

A group of faculty members, staff, students and friends in the University of Victoria’s history department have been working together to bring to Greater Victoria a family of five refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict.

In recent weeks, other groups around the Capital Region have undertaken efforts to work toward  the same goal.

In the Gazette, we’ve seen some readers question the outpouring of support for families outside Canada, when so many people here at home also struggle to meet their daily needs, through no fault of their own.

We understand that concern, and credit the many people working every day to also alleviate that suffering. However, we also believe in the need to recognize our place in the larger world.

To help one is not to devalue another.

There’s also the misconception among some that refugees are a drain on the system.

In fact refugees, and immigrants generally, add much to the community, culturally, socially and financially.

A report issued this week by Vancity credit union found Syrian refugees expected to arrive in British Columbia between now and the end of February will generate at least $563 million in local economic activity over the next 20 years.

The report, “From Crisis to Community: Syrian Refugees and the B.C. Economy,” found that immigrants tend to strengthen economies within their new communities, since they often purchase goods and services within their local community networks.

Further, immigrants tend to be highly entrepreneurial – they’re about 30 per cent more likely to start a business than non-immigrants. In Halifax, for example, the Lebanese community is estimated to have created about 3.6 local jobs for each immigrant.

Addressing refugees specifically, the report found that refugees also report higher rates of self-employment than both other immigrants and people born in Canada. That doesn’t even begin to consider the cultural benefits of welcoming new families into the Canadian fold.

UVic history professor Elizabeth Vibert recently told our sister paper, the Oak Bay News, “People need to really be aware of how much new immigrants bring to this country.”

We couldn’t agree more, and hope that our communities embrace their new neighbours when they arrive.

Just Posted

RCMP fine man $1,150 for camping, lighting campfire in Mill Hill Regional Park

Campfires prohibited at all regional parks except designated campgrounds

Langford fire douses six fires in two days – five from cigarette butts

‘The world is not a personal ashtray’ says fire chief

BC Coroners Service in early stages of investigation into death of Saanich student

British Columbia recorded 293 deaths of children in 2016, according to 2018 report

Victoria sees many new landmarks between 2018-2019

Bridges, buildings and more have popped up across Victoria in the past year

VIDEO: Rare white killer whale captured by drone near Campbell River

The transient orca has been named Tl’uk, a Coast Salish word that means ‘moon.’

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of June 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support the government’s decision to approve the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion?

The federal government announced Tuesday its approval for the Trans Mountain pipeline… Continue reading

VIDEO: After 73 years, siblings separated by adoption reunite in B.C

Donna Smith of Abbotsford and Clayton Myers of Williams Lake are glad they met each other

B.C.-born Carey Price brings young fan to tears at NHL Awards banquet

Anderson Whitehead first met his hockey idol after his mother died of cancer

Nanaimo a prime market for new plane, Air Canada says

Vice-president previews Airbus A220, praises Nanaimo’s growth in passenger numbers

RCMP deploys special unit in Comox Valley to combat organized crime

Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit spends four days targeting organized crime in Courtenay

B.C. temporarily halts resource development to protect caribou

The caribou population in northeastern B.C. has dwindled over the last two decades

Most Read