We have lost one of the good ones. Francisco was a presence in our sector. I feel lucky to have known and learned from him.
I have always considered him a source of inspiration, strength, resiliency, advocacy, and a force for justice.
I will miss him, his presence in our sector, but also his wit and humanity. When I have seen or heard him speak, I have always been reminded about the humanity, justice, and love in our work. I am a better person in the work I do because of people like him.
A few years ago I worked with Findhelp Toronto to create the online course Settlement Information and Referral Training, which you can take on OCASI's LearnAtWork site (you'll need to create a free account).
The focus of the course is "to ensure vulnerable newcomers with complex needs are getting the best settlement assistance and advocacy possible. We want settlement workers to know how to assess, communicate and listen to clients with multiple and intersecting needs. Understanding and applying the core principles of information and referral will give settlement workers the tools to advocate and navigate for their clients."
We decided to interview some sector experts to make sure their voices were loud and present, especially when it came to talking about refugees and their needs. Of course, FCJ Centre co-director Francisco Rico-Martinez immediately came to mind. And I was thrilled when he agreed to be interviewed.
Francisco was a presence in our sector. If you don't know him, you should. He helps remind the next generation of frontline workers in our sector about what is important, what matters, how to bring our whole selves to the work, and how to be grounded in core values.
Of course, he brought all of that to the course. And we are so thankful for what he shared. I wanted to share his insights with you, regardless of whether or not you take the course. Below are the specific segments.
In this video, Francisco outlines how refugees are vulnerable in Canada, in part because of their lack of knowledge of the service system when they come to Canada:
Francisco provides some insight about how the immigration system in Canada sees change in refugee populations, but also how refugee-producing countries can re-appear over time. As he says, we have to have flexibility in the Settlement sector as we prepare and respond to trends and changes in newcomer vulnerability:
All newcomers can be vulnerable. And vulnerability can occur again and again. For refugees who have experienced trauma, the vulnerability can re-appear in later years. In this video Francisco Rico-Martinez outlines what that could look like when you're working with a newcomer who arrived to Canada as a refugee; what he describes as "refugee syndrome."
In this segment, Francisco reminds settlement workers that you are experts in settlement. Don't forget that. But also don't forget you need a commitment to constant learning, professional development and building your professional network:
Francisco also outlines how significant your experience as a Settlement Worker is in establishing trust and making a connection with vulnerable newcomers:
Francisco outlines what service coordination looks like with refugee claimants. As he says, "It's important that we link the person to services as soon as we identify a need." At the same time, the service system is still difficult to navigate, which makes your role as a connector, advocate and service expert extremely important.