Published on March 21, 2023, this report explores how religious institutions affect refugee settlement in Kelowna, a mid-size city in British Columbia.
Abstract: Canada is a leading refugee-settlement nation with a highly developed private refugee sponsorship programme involving many community and religious institutions. This study explored how religious institutions affect refugee settlement in Kelowna, a mid-size city in British Columbia. Kelowna has had a significant increase in refugee sponsorship since the 2015 Syrian crisis, and most private sponsorship has involved churches and the local mosque, in collaboration with government-funded settlement services and community partners. We collected data through a questionnaire distributed among former refugees and semi-structured interviews with key informants including clergy, refugee-sponsorship groups, and service providers. The results reveal that religious institutions help refugees cope with barriers and challenges in Kelowna in three main ways: bridging language barriers between newcomers, service providers, and sponsorship providers; helping newcomers establish new lives in Kelowna and move toward integration; and helping newcomers move away from precarity toward prosperity as they re-establish themselves and their families.