Strengthening the web: the value and investigation of community conceptions in refugee resettlement

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Thomas, Caitlin
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"Resettlement can no longer be seen as the least-preferred durable solution; in many cases, it is the only solution for refugees." -Sadako Ogata, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, 2000 The global refugee crisis has reached an unprecedented level. Close to 79.5 million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced, 26 million of which are refugees. UNHCR and other refugee organizations are calling for international support in responding to this crisis. When considering what Canada’s response is, many dissenting opinions wage the capacity and quality of settlement with the need for durable solutions for those who are vulnerable, displaced and without security. As with an increase in monitoring and evaluation within the settlement sector, I ask the question, how can community conceptions of quality settlement, integration, and a sense of belonging inform the monitoring and evaluation of refugee resettlement? This research focuses on themes of integration, quality settlement and belonging, from multiple vantage points, to build a bridge to address the gap that exists between policy and practice within the settlement sector. I identify the important role that those with lived experience, Sponsorship Agreement Holders, service providers, sponsorship groups and the government, all play in determining and facilitating what a successful settlement entail. Contextualized by the current refugee crisis, and rooted in theories of positive peace from the field of Peace and Conflict Studies (PACS), I draw on perspectives from Conflict Theory and Jean-Paul Lederach’s Expanded Framework for Peacebuilding, in order to understand community conceptions of integration, quality settlement and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. By utilizing the relational approach to semi-structured interviews, I garnered a rich understanding of these concepts, the gaps in the private sponsorship program, and how these collaboration can contribute to a monitoring and evaluation mechanism that is context-specific, flexible and client-focused. I argue that the settlement sector, including those actors at all levels of influence, should be included in policy discussions and the web of relationships strengthened between them, in a way to contribute to the sustainable development and continuation of the private sponsorship program in Manitoba and Canada.
Refugee, Canadian resettlement, Peacebuilding