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More than $4 million worth of free tuition donated to help Syrian refugees learn French and English

OTTAWA, January 27, 2016 – Languages Canada member programs have donated more than $4 million worth of free tuition for English and French language programs in support of the Languages Canada Syrian Refugee Integration Initiative. The association has been working to reach out to all levels of government to ensure Syrian refugees have access to quality language education helping them integrate into Canadian society, culture and the workforce.

Last week, Immigration Minister John McCallum announced that the federal government is looking to settle newly-arrived Syrian refugees in more French-speaking communities across the country. McCallum noted that more than 90 per cent of refugees who have arrived in Canada speak neither English nor French, which creates a “blank slate” for refugees and provinces to teach newly-arrived Syrians either of Canada’s two official languages.

Currently five French programs in Ottawa and Montreal are participating in the association’s initiative and that number is only expected to grow.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is working with many partners to welcome thousands of refugees into their new communities by offering support through orientation to life in Canada, access to healthcare, permanent housing, counselling, language services, schooling and other federal, provincial, territorial and municipal support services. To help further support Canada’s refugee plan, more than 13,550 weeks have been donated by 61 Languages Canada members across Canada – a total value of $4 million.

“We look forward to hearing from potential partners to work with us on this important initiative,” says Nathalie Samson, Director of Public Affairs at Languages Canada. “We are eager to be of service and to work with our local and provincial governments to ensure Syrian refugees arriving in Canada receive the necessary language education to thrive in their new country.”

Contributions by language programs are vital to the long-term success of the Syrian refugees in Canada. Accredited language programs welcome 137,000 students a year and are often a gateway to Canada’s universities and colleges, immigration and the workforce; they allow refugees to learn languages, explore our culture and integrate into our communities.

“The language education sector is truly united in its goal to make the world a better place,” says Gonzalo Peralta, Executive Director of Languages Canada. “To further deliver on our promise, we hope to work with governments and other groups to connect Syrian refugees with high quality French and English language programs that support a smooth pathway to immigration and the workforce for these people who have suffered so much.”

There are more than four million Syrian refugees. The Government of Canada will invest up to $678 million over six years toward expediting the resettlement and ensuring integration support for these Syrian refugees. Visit the Languages Canada Syrian Refugee Integration Initiative webpage for more information and a full list of participating members.

Languages Canada is Canada’s national language education association representing more than 225 private and public language education members that offer accredited English and French programs.

For media inquiries, please contact:
Sarah Snowdon
Communications Manager