Publications, reports, and articles.

(Mis)trusted Contact - Resettlement Knowledge Assets and the Third Space of Refugee Reception (2019)

Posted on:
April 24, 2024

Abstract

"Drawing on interviews with 204 participants in two studies of privately sponsored refugee resettlement in Ontario, Canada, we explore the resettlement effects of pre-arrival contact on the interactional dynamics between private sponsors and privately sponsored Syrian refugees. Those who had regular pre-arrival contact via digital applications such as Facebook, Skype, and Whatsapp reported more positive, “successful” resettlement experiences than those who had not. This pre-arrival interactive dynamic has theoretical/conceptual implications beyond an understanding of the benefits of “information exchange.” Pre-arrival sponsor-sponsored interaction is not bound by the contexts of displacement or resettlement, but constitutes a “third space” of reception, co-created through trusted contact. We develop the concept of “resettlement knowledge assets” and report on how these assets emerge through pre-arrival trust building, modify the resettlement expectations of both sponsors and sponsored, and reduce resettlement uncertainty."

This report explores key themes around the resettlement experiences of privately sponsored Syrian refugees in Ontario. It particularly focuses on the impact of online pre-arrival contact via digital communication platforms like Facebook, Skype, and WhatsApp between refugees and their private sponsors.

Key Themes:

  1. Third Space of Reception: The concept of a "third space" of reception signifies a virtual, co-created space where sponsors and refugees interact prior to physical arrival. This space transcends traditional physical and social boundaries associated with displacement and resettlement.
  2. Resettlement Knowledge Assets: The report introduces the idea of "resettlement knowledge assets," which are developed through trusted pre-arrival interactions. These assets significantly alter resettlement expectations and reduce uncertainty for both sponsors and refugees: "Information in and of itself cannot be thought of as an asset to inclusive resettlement. But, as our studies also show, resettlement information can be transformed into resettlement knowledge assets in the pre-arrival sponsor-sponsored relation of trusted contact."

Key Findings:

  1. Impact of Pre-arrival Contact: Refugees who engaged in regular pre-arrival digital communications with their sponsors reported more positive and "successful" resettlement experiences compared to those who did not have such contact.
  2. Modification of Expectations and Reduction of Uncertainty: The establishment of trust through pre-arrival contact helps in modifying the resettlement expectations and reduces uncertainty, facilitating smoother integration and adaptation upon arrival.
  3. Creation of Community-like Solidarities: The relationships forged in the digital third space often lead to the formation of "community-like" solidarities between sponsors and refugees, which help in building a supportive and inclusive resettlement environment.

"Pre-arrival trusted contact was co-created in the digital third space of refugee reception, not limited to the temporal and spatial boundaries of displacement or resettlement. In the building of resettlement knowledge assets, neither party is rendered dependent on the other; rather, their respective needs merge to form “community-like” solidarities forged through the reduction of resettlement uncertainty. Unknowable future outcomes are made more knowable."

These themes and findings underscore the importance of trusted, pre-arrival communication in enhancing the resettlement process, suggesting that such practices could be considered more systematically in refugee sponsorship programs globally.

You can also watch Dr. Christopher Kyriakides in this 2017 webinar recording - The Dynamic of Trust in Refugee-Host Relations (unfortunately I'm unable to embed the video here) - where he discusses "how the dynamic of refugee-host relations affects and is affected by the Canadian Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program. He outlines what he calls 'the existential transactions of worth,' focusing on the pre and post arrival exchange of 'resettlement knowledge assets,' why they are central to the establishment of trust between sponsor groups and refugees, and the importance of 'trust formation' in determining 'resettlement success,' particularly after 'month 13'."

Article from Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees Vol. 35 No. 2 (2019): Refugee Sponsorship: Lessons Learned, Ways Forward

Summary

This report explores key themes around the resettlement experiences of privately sponsored Syrian refugees in Ontario. It particularly focuses on the impact of online pre-arrival contact via digital communication platforms like Facebook, Skype, and WhatsApp between refugees and their private sponsors.
arrow-circle-upenter-downmagnifier