In the last year and a half, more than 2,000 Syrian refugees have come to Edmonton to start a new life. Many are still settling in to new homes, schools and work.
For the second year in a row, a summer camp in Edmonton is helping children from Syria adapt to — and make the most out of — life in Canada.
Discover Canada Kids Camp runs the program in partnership with REACH, a non-profit that helps co-ordinate funding and resources.
“The first year that you’re an immigrant or refugee into a country is actually almost the easier year because the resources are there,” said Lindsay Daniller, REACH director of community initiatives. “The government makes the resources available, families make the resources available.
“The year after that first year — which is where many of these families fit into — sometimes those are the tougher years.
“The novelty of coming to a new place has worn off and now you really have to find a way to be part of this new country.”
REACH will help support about 15 Edmonton camps this summer using approximately $200,000 from a variety of sources, including the city, the province and the private sector.
This year, up to 55 kids, ranging in age from six to 16, will take part in Discover Canada Kids Camp. The seven-week camp is tailored to kids who have been in Canada for three years or less. More than half the kids are Syrian refugees, but others come from Korea, Lebanon and Jamaica.
The camp gives them access to recreational activities, like trips to the Valley Zoo and Alberta Legislature.
“There’s crafts and we play games and we talk a little bit about Canada and then we visit different places like Fort Edmonton Park, the zoo and stuff like that,” 13-year-old Danielle Tarabishi said.
“I’m living here now so it’s better to know stuff about it.”
Staff also offer educational help, language support and assistance with social and cultural norms.
“We wanted it to incorporate a whole bunch of Canadian themes,” said Janessa Gritter with Discover Canada Kids Camp. “Talking about Canadian provinces, Canadian animals — so they really get a taste of what Canada is and what an amazing country it is.”
On Monday, members of Edmonton Fire Rescue Services visited and did a demonstration for the kids.
The camp started earlier in July and will run until August. Children can sign up for as many weeks as they want.
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