Exploring Refugee Children’s Pre- and Post-Migration Educational Experiences

Researchers: Dr. Christine Massing, Dr. Daniel Kikulwe, Katerine Nakutnyy and Dr. Needal Ghadi.
January 2023

During the ongoing war in Syria, the Canadian government promised to receive 25,000 refugees1 fleeing war and persecution over a period of three months in 2015-2016 (IRCC, 2019). Half of those admitted were children (IRCC, 2019). The arrival of comparatively large numbers of Syrian refugees necessitated resettlement in smaller urban centres such as Saskatoon and Regina in addition to the traditional refugee-receiving large metropolitan centres like Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver (CIC, 2016).

During the initial wave of migration, the province of Saskatchewan welcomed 1,415 Syrians, nearly 650 of whom were resettled in the city of Regina (IRCC, 2019). In total, 98 percent of the arrivals in Saskatchewan came as Government Assisted Refugees (GARs) while two percent were privately sponsored (IRCC, 2019). In 2016, Regina recorded the fourth highest rate of population growth in the country, and immigration to the city is projected to continue (IRCC, 2019; Statistics Canada, 2017; Statistics Canada, 2022). Regina has an established settlement agency, the Regina Open Door Society (RODS) which mobilized to cultivate support, putting out an urgent call to the community for housing and employment possibilities. The newly formed Regina Region Local Immigration Partnership also worked with key community stakeholders to provide a coordinated response to Syrian resettlement including preparing welcome packages, soliciting donations, and locating resources. 

This research study was designed to provide in-depth insights into the educational experiences of a small group of Syrian children back home, in transitional countries, and in public elementary schools in Regina, Saskatchewan. In the report which follows, we begin by detailing the context for the research, then review the relevant research literature. We follow with the statement of purpose and research questions, and a description of the methodological approach used in the study. Finally, we develop an expansive discussion of the research findings and conclude with implications and future directions for practice.