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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alice Munro among Nobel Prize winners urging Trudeau to deny oilsands project

Alberta premier says Teck’s Frontier mine would create 7,500 jobs, $70 billion in government revenue

Folk-roots duo play Metchosin’s music coffee house

Event takes place at 4430 Happy Valley Rd. from 7 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22

Oak Bay cyclist runner-up in Spanish stage race

Adam de Vos on podium amongst World Tour best in Spain

SD62 asks Colwood to help fund crossing guard at Wishart Elementary

‘We’re just overly congested,’ says PAC president

Saanich Police respond to petition for new police agency on Lindsay Buziak murder case

Petition asks Public Safety Minister to to help find justice for slain realtor

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

UPDATE: Lockdown lifted at Nanaimo high school following threats

Nearby elementary school was in hold-and-secure

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 18

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

POLL: Do you support the proposed changes for ICBC?

Tuesday’s provincial budget predicted a shift from shortfall to surplus in wake… Continue reading

RCMP clarifies stance on removing officers from Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C.

Police say will remove officers only if hereditary chiefs keep road open to pipeline workers

Most Read