Academic journal article Refuge

Impact of Remittances on Refugees' Lives in Canada: Views of Sudanese and Vietnamese Leaders and Settlement Counsellors

Academic journal article Refuge

Impact of Remittances on Refugees' Lives in Canada: Views of Sudanese and Vietnamese Leaders and Settlement Counsellors

Article excerpt


Focus groups were conducted with Sudanese and Vietnamese refugee leaders and settlement counsellors (twenty seven participants) to identify their views about the effect of sending remittances on refugees in these two communities, and their suggestions about optimizing the situation. Leaders and counsellors noted that refugees feel pride at helping out and guilt at hot being able to send sufficient money. They postponed education and skills upgrades, and worked several jobs to support family here and abroad. Newcomers were advised to focus first on settling in and creating realistic expectations about their resources before sending remittances. Changes in family reunification policy were suggested.


Des groupes de discussions ont ete organises avec les representants des refugies vietnamiens et soudanais et des conseillers en etablissement (vingt-sept participants) afin de connaitre leur point de vue sur l'impact qu'avait sur les refugies leurs envois de fonds dans leurs pays d'origine, et leurs suggestions pour ameliorer leur situation. Les representants et les conseillers ont note que les refugies etaient fiers de pouvoir aider leur famille financierement ou se sentait coupable de ne pouvoir le faire. En effet, ils remettent a plus tard leur education et la mise a niveau de leurs competences et prennent plusieurs emplois pour pouvoir soutenir leur famille ici et a l'etranger. On a recommande que les nouveaux arrivants se concentrent d'abord sur leur installation et sur des objectifs financiers realistes avant d'envoyer des fonds a leur famille. On a egalement suggere del changements a la politique de reunification des familles.


The purpose of this study is to identify Vietnamese and Sudanese leaders' and settlement counsellors' views about how sending remittances to relatives living in other countries affects the lives of refugees resettled in Vancouver, Canada. Participants were also asked for their views about the effect of family reunification policies on remittance sending, and their suggestions for educational or policy initiatives to optimize the situation.

In the extensive literature on migrants and immigrants sending remittances, the focus has been on the impact of remittances on the recipients or the recipients' country. (1) Studies concerning the impact on remittance senders have looked atone refugee group each. (2) This study is unusual in examining two refugee groups living in Vancouver, one of which has been settled in Canada for over thirty years (the Vietnamese) and one that has arrived in the past ten years (the Sudanese). After Toronto and Montreal, Vancouver has the largest number of immigrants in the country. (3)

Studies of Vietnamese refugees' economic and social adaptation have usually highlighted the early days of their resettlement, which peaked in Canada between 1979 and 1981. (4) Although remittances are mentioned in some of these publications, the consequences of sending remittances to Vietnamese senders are not known. (5)

The current study builds on previous research by the first author about the adaptation of Vietnamese and Sudanese refugees. Including both groups provides an opportunity to assess the effect of remittances on documented refugees from different parts of the world who have different lengths of time in Canada, but who have experienced resettlement under some similar circumstances (e.g., Canada's refugee resettlement program, no prior ethnic community available when they arrived, and both resettling in Vancouver, Canada).

A second novel aspect of this study is that it sought the views of leaders of the refugees' ethnic communities and of settlement counsellors. Leaders have knowledge about their community that goes beyond their own experiences. Moreover, they have been involved in organizing community activities and in serving as a liaison with the agencies assisting in settlement and integration. …

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