The University of Winnipeg



‘Pathways’ to welcoming Syrian refugees

Mohamad Al Ziab, Recently arrived from Syria via Lebanon with his family, NEEDS Centre

Mohamad Al Ziab, Recently arrived from Syria via Lebanon with his family, NEEDS Centre, photo courtesy of UWinnipeg

The Syrian refugee crisis is dominating international headlines as Canada plans to welcome 25,000 from the region over the coming months, with Manitoba alone planning to resettle about 500 families. UWinnipeg Psychology faculty members Dr. Danielle Gaucher and Dr. Justin Friesen have recently returned from Toronto with graduate student Katelin Neufeld, where the three participated in timely discussions at the Pathways to Prosperity 2015 National Conference. The national alliance of university researchers with community and government partners are dedicated to fostering welcoming communities and promoting the integration of immigrants and minorities across Canada, including refugees.

The topics addressed at the conference included: the Syrian refugee crisis, improving immigrant employment outcomes, the social and cultural integration of immigrants, integrating health care professionals from abroad, services for vulnerable populations, and creating welcoming communities.

Dr. Danielle Gaucher

Dr. Danielle Gaucher

“The Pathways to Prosperity Conference comes at an important time — right when many Canadians are thinking about issues of immigration and the arrival of Syrian refugees,” expressed Gaucher. “The research happening in our labs allows us to add empirically driven insights to those discussions.”

Gaucher presented results from a Winnipeg survey of perceptions of immigrants and related social services, which was developed jointly with The Immigrant Centre, a Winnipeg organization that provides immigrant settlement services.

Friesen presented results from a national survey of Canadian stereotypes about immigrant groups (e.g., refugees and temporary foreign workers). Neufeld, with Gaucher and others, presented posters on the role of belongingness in settlement outcomes and strategies to enhance a sense of belongingness in newcomers.

Dr. Justin Friesen

Dr. Justin Friesen

“It was inspiring and productive to make connections with practitioners, policy makers and other researchers,” noted Friesen. “The diverse group at the conference had the shared goal of promoting prosperous immigrant settlement in Canada. We heard the firsthand experiences of people who provide settlement services to Canadian newcomers. At the same time, it was invigorating to discuss the important role of psychological research as society grapples with pressing social issues like immigration and refugee integration.”

Gaucher concurred about the important role of research, observing that, “Hearing from people who work directly with immigrants and refugees — those within settlement agencies — was one of the highlights of the conference. These agencies do a tremendous amount of work helping newcomers successfully settle into Canada.”

For more information on the conference please visit

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