Notice: Important information about COVID-19 here.

Research to examine needs of refugees

By Costa Maragos Posted: January 12, 2016 6:00 a.m.

(l-r) Darcy Dietrich, Executive Director of the Open Door Society of Regina, Dr. Donalda Halabuza and Dr. Daniel Kikulwe, professors in the Faculty of Social Work.
(l-r) Darcy Dietrich, Executive Director of the Open Door Society of Regina, Dr. Donalda Halabuza and Dr. Daniel Kikulwe, professors in the Faculty of Social Work. Photo by Rae Graham - U of R Photography.

As Regina sees the arrival of more Syrian refugees, a U of R research project is in the works that will examine how refugee families have adjusted to life here.

Dr. Donalda Halabuza and Dr. Daniel Kikulwe from the Faculty of Social Work started planning the project before the Canadian government announced it was taking in thousands of refugees from Syria.

The study is about understanding resilience in refugee families and the support systems available to them and focusses on people who have been in the country for at least five years.

“Different families are going to have different definitions of resilience, because resilience is a culturally-relevant concept,” says Halabuza. “What I might consider being resilient may be very different than somebody else. We thought it would be really important to know and to understand what we are doing as a province and as a city right now. We’ve had an influx of immigration to our province over the last decade. This study is particularly relevant now with the Syrians coming.”

Halabuza and Kikulwe will work closely with employees and management at the Regina Open Door Society.  

The research will also be assisted by Crystal Giesbrecht, a research assistant. In total the study aims to interview 10 to 20 families who have recently settled in Regina.

“By learning a few of the things that have helped those families, we could then use that information and share it with others that are coming, including Syrian families,” says Kikulwe. “It is really important to understand the elements that help people to make it.”

Kikulwe and Halabuza say it is critical to work closely with the Regina Open Door Society, a non-profit organization that provides settlement and integration services to refugees and immigrants to the city, because of their experience in the resettlement process.

“I feel this research is very important because I’ve seen how research is done in other Canadian provinces, in terms of how newcomers, and refugees in particular; are they settling successfully and are their needs met and are they doing well?” says Darcy Dietrich, Executive Director of the Regina Open Door Society.

“I thought it was very important when Donalda and Daniel brought this to us, that we need to do something specific to Saskatchewan and to Regina. To truly understand within our services, what’s helping the most and what might we need to adjust a little to make sure we are doing the best job that we can for refugee families to get on their feet.”

The research findings will be shared with the Regina Open Door Society and other agencies that deal with refugees. It’s hoped such a project will be extended to other communities in Saskatchewan that are also seeing an influx of new refugees.

Related Stories


Social Work calls for accepting Syrian refugees

New funding provides increased support for refugees

U of R grad reunited with her father