Local Syrian refugee families opt for life in larger cities

More than half of the seven Syrian refugee families who settled in the Chaleur region have left for larger cities in Ontario and Quebec.

Though the newcomers felt welcomed and were happy with the support they received, the Chaleur Multicultural Association says a lack of a Syrian community, religious education and job prospects forced them to seek opportunities elsewhere.

Association Chair Euclide Chiasson says finding meaningful employment before mastering at least one of two official languages is extremely challenging, as is working at minimum wage while support four to five children.

But Chiasson says the families learned enough English to communicate and eventually find work thanks to language programs offered by CCNB in Bathurst.

He sees the fact the families were comfortable enough to move on as a success but feels the association can do a better job in retaining newcomers the next time around.

Chiasson says dealing with refugees is much different than welcoming landed immigrants and believes the association can do better in retaining newcomers next time around by learning best practices of other rural regions in Canada.

Though the newcomers have left, Chiasson says the association still has one of the top retention rates in the province.