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How can we help newcomers and refugees participate in their new communities? Through human rights education activities, Equitas helps newcomer and refugee children feel a sense of belonging while reinforcing the skills of all children to build welcoming and inclusive communities across Canada

Canada has a long history of welcoming people from around the world who have moved here for many reasons. Most recently, as a result of the conflict in Syria, Canada has seen a dramatic rise in the number of Syrian refugees resettling here with higher numbers of refugee children and youth participating in schools, community centres, and recreational programs across the country.

These spaces within communities are important for newcomer and refugee children and youth to start to get to know their new home, feel safe and adjust to big changes in their lives: 

  • These spaces can provide welcoming, safe, and supportive environments for refugee children and youth to develop a sense of belonging and connectedness, build communication skills, make friends and feel like they are part of the broader community.
  • They are also important spaces to address possible negative attitudes and discriminatory behaviours towards refugee children and youth through programming that promotes positive values, attitudes, and inclusion and respect for diversity for all community members.

What we do

It is important for children and youth to learn about human rights and human rights values because knowing about your own rights is the first step in promoting greater respect for the rights of others.

When children and youth are aware of their rights, they begin to understand that all people are important as human beings. They start to also realize that what they live, think and feel has value and that they can make a positive contribution to the life of the group, of their family, their school, and their community.

Doing activities with children that promote human rights and human rights values is one of the most effective ways of encouraging positive behaviour because the activities involve critical reflection and increase children and youth’s sense of responsibility.

Once children become more aware of the importance of respect for diversity, cooperation, and inclusion, they are better equipped to put these values into practice in their daily lives.