Asylum seekers who arrive in Niagara Falls, Canada, often face challenges accessing essential services, such as food, shelter, and medical care. However, the city and its partners are working together to provide them with support and resources to improve their well-being and integration.
According to the Canadian Council for Refugees, an asylum seeker is "a person who has fled their country of origin and is seeking protection in another country, but whose claim for refugee status has not yet been determined." In Canada, asylum seekers have the right to seek protection and access basic services while their claims are being processed. However, due to various factors, such as limited resources, bureaucratic delays, and policy changes, asylum seekers may experience hardship and uncertainty during their stay in Canada.
In Niagara Falls, asylum seekers who are temporarily housed in hotels face some unique challenges. For example, they may not be familiar with the local language, culture, and geography, which can make it harder for them to navigate the city and communicate with service providers. They may also have limited financial resources, which can affect their ability to buy food, clothing, and other essentials. In addition, they may suffer from physical and mental health issues related to their traumatic experiences and prolonged displacement.
To address these challenges, the City of Niagara Falls, the Niagara Region, and various community organizations have implemented several initiatives to support asylum seekers in hotels. For instance:
- The City of Niagara Falls has established a dedicated office to coordinate services for asylum seekers and liaise with partners, such as Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the Canadian Red Cross, and local health units. The office provides information and referrals, as well as basic necessities, such as food, clothing, and hygiene items. It also helps asylum seekers to access healthcare, legal aid, and other services.
- The Niagara Region has partnered with the Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre and the YMCA of Niagara to deliver a range of settlement services, including language training, employment support, housing assistance, and cultural orientation. These services are available to all newcomers, including asylum seekers.
- The Niagara Falls Community Health Centre has established a clinic inside one of the hotels to provide primary care, mental health, and addiction services to asylum seekers. The clinic also offers outreach and education to raise awareness about health issues and promote healthy behaviours.
- The Niagara Falls Food Bank has partnered with the Niagara Regional Native Centre to deliver culturally appropriate food boxes to asylum seekers, which include fresh produce, meat, dairy, and grains. The food bank also accepts donations of non-perishable food items and personal care products.
These initiatives have had positive outcomes for asylum seekers and the broader community. For example:
- Asylum seekers have reported feeling more supported and connected to their new environment, as they can access timely and culturally sensitive services that address their immediate and long-term needs. They have also expressed gratitude for the kindness and empathy shown by service providers and volunteers.
- Service providers have reported feeling more informed and coordinated, as they can share information and resources more effectively and work towards common goals. They have also gained a deeper appreciation for the resilience and diversity of asylum seekers and the importance of addressing their unique circumstances.
- The broader community has benefited from a more inclusive and welcoming environment, as it can learn from and engage with asylum seekers and their cultures. It has also demonstrated its capacity for compassion and solidarity in times of crisis and uncertainty.
We need your help to continue to post news that matters...You can support our efforts by buying us a coffee... It’s quick, secure, and easy. https://gogetfunding.com/realnewscast/