Syrian refugee to help non-profit tackle resettlement struggles
Jeff Lagerquist, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Sunday, November 26, 2017 11:48AM EST
A Syrian refugee who built a new life for himself in Montreal wants to make the transition easier for those who follow in his footsteps.
Jad Chanko, 25, was among the more than 40,000 Syrians who resettled in Canada under the Liberal government’s 2015 promise to help those impacted by the country’s civil war. Educated as a civil engineer and fluent in both English and French, he found adapting to life in his new city less strenuous than many who fled the violence back home for a new start in Canada.
“It was somehow easy for me to integrate, but for others it might be harder with languages (and) with finding jobs,” he told CTV Montreal on Saturday.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada did not track a number of key metrics on Syrian refugee settlement between fall 2015 and the spring of this year, according to the federal auditor general’s 2017 fall report. The missing markers include the number of children attending school and how many received income assistance.
Chanko said high unemployment is one of many challenges his fellow refugees face when they arrive in Canada. He feels grateful for his job at a call centre.
Chanko’s desire to help more refugees find work is one of the reasons he was drawn to Operation Evac, a new non-profit initiative using online video and social media to raise awareness and funds for non-governmental agencies assisting refugees.
His story is featured prominently on the group’s website. In a video, he shares how he thinks about the people in Aleppo every day, and how “tiny bits of accomplishment” have made him feel more at home in Canada.
Operation Evac President Patrick Salonius said the group will start working towards its first goal of raising $7,500 for the refugee advocacy group Action Refugies Montreal at an official launch party on Tuesday.
Salonius said the group has plans to offer more than funding to help Montreal’s refugee community thrive.
“When they arrive here, they need someone to come and check in on them, to make sure they are actually able to access the services. So someone to help find the language classes, someone to get hydro,” he said. “We’re a group of almost entirely young people just looking to make a difference in the refugee crisis.”
With a report from CTV Montreal’s Denise Roberts