Our idea is to develop a hard copy handbook that provides basic information to refugees coming to reside in Calgary. The handbook will address short-term needs and provide useful information on topics such as health, transportation, finances, home, safety, connectivity, as well as practical translations of English phrases. Meant to be a comprehensive yet simple guidebook, it is our intent that refugees can fit this booklet into their pocket, purse, or bag, and use it to navigate life in Calgary upon first arrival. For example, we hope to include discussions on how to use the c-train, what you can expect in an emergency wait room, how to fill a prescription, legal and domestic abuse support, available community programs, and free activities or events.
In essence, the goal of the handbook is to provide basic daily advice on topics that we as Calgarians treat as second nature, and to break them down into simple steps, pictures, diagrams, and words, that refugees can understand, as well as common phrases translated into the major languages used by refugees in Calgary.
Once our handbook is completed, we hope to print and distribute it for free to common locations that refugees attend, including community centres, aid groups, and medical offices. We have already entered into discussions with the City of Calgary as well as stakeholders in refugee support and these groups have acknowledged the need for such a handbook and their willingness to distribute once completed.
Who Will it Benefit?
This project will benefit all new refugees in Calgary – Syrian or otherwise. It will provide useful advice so that refugees can become more integrated into the community, feel safer in the public, and more knowledgeable about the city itself when leaving their homes. For example, at this time many refugees are not aware that their health card covers prescriptions at specific locations and as a result, they go without the medication they need or spend excessive amounts to obtain it. Another example is that refugees from third world countries do not necessarily understand the value of public transit, or how to use it. Coming from rural areas, these individuals are not familiar with bus routes or train stations and often see public transit as a lower-class service. As a result, our guidebook will include basic tips on the value of public transit and its widespread use, as well as directions on how to use a transit route, how to pay fares, and common stops of note.