Newcomers to Canada need opportunities to integrate into their new communities at large, but this need is more significant for refugees. According to statistics from the United Nations (UN), nearly half of all refugees are minors. Furthermore, the UN’s statistics note that the majority of young refugees are leaving countries that have experienced severe conflicts. The young refugees fleeing these war zones have a high probability of experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder in some form. These factors contribute to complexities with integration into a new society for youth refugees who carry with them traumas associated with vacating their host countries. The plight of the refugee is unique in that they have not chosen to leave their host country but had to leave due to issues surrounding their safety; thus, they could be arriving with any variety of mental health challenges. As such, it is critical for young refugees to feel welcomed, valued, and supported upon arrival. Empowering refugee youth to become leaders is critically important because of their capacity to evolve into complex leaders at every level.
|More than half of all refugees coming to Canada are youth who have witnessed severe conflicts, most often resulting in PTSD.|
The Canadian government stated in 2016 that there were plans to recruit more than 300,000 newcomers to Canada over the coming years, including refugees from conflict zones. Youth escaping from areas where there are significant humanitarian crises are at risk of feeling isolated and alone upon arrival in their new country. Therefore, it is beholden on Canada to create programs and initiatives that bring refugee youth together to share experiences that can help them adapt to their new surroundings. Often, programs aimed at nurturing communication and leadership potential can help build a sense of community amongst refugee youth while empowering them to engage in initiatives that highlight their host countries’ plights. Youth empowerment in leadership programs can result in leadership evolvement in the larger society as the refugee’s voice is amplified to contribute to a society that recognizes and values their experience and humanity.
|Oftentimes young refugees feel isolated and alone upon arriving in Canada, so it is critical to provide them with programs that nurture communication, leadership potential, and a sense of community.|
One example of developing youth leaders can be through volunteer initiatives. Creating volunteer opportunities for youth to explore can help foster youth refugees’ potential leadership qualities while creating a sense of belonging and value to the larger community. This can help develop new communication skills, a sense of belonging, and aid in language acquisition. Labour market participation and leadership program opportunities are also critical for the successful integration of refugees into their new host countries. Supporting the development of refugee youth through connections to volunteer opportunities and leadership programs can help them develop employability skills while contributing to the community’s wellness at large. The evolution of youth refugee leadership requires a continuum of support from settlement to employment and integration into a new society. Building leadership capacity amongst refugee youth is a valuable method that contributes to the evolvement of leadership in society at large.
|Leadership programs and volunteer initiatives for refugee youth can foster a sense of community, leadership skills, and potential employability.|