A Ph.D. student at the University of Guelph is investigating the economic impacts and influence of COVID-19 on Syrian Refugee settlement and integration into rural Canada.
Rana Telfah completed her Master's degree at the University of Jordan and was accepted into the Rural Planning Program at the University of Guelph in 2012.
She said Syrian women face a number of challenges in moving to a new country and a new community. One of them is that, as the woman in the house, they usually stay at home while their husband goes out to work, so they are often isolated from the rest of the community.
Telfah said that is compounded when the move is to a rural community because the services provided to newcomers in smaller communities are not the same as those provided for newcomers in urban centres.
"All of the services provided to newcomers are different in smaller communities than in urban centres. In smaller communities, they're not available as much as in bigger communities," said Telfah. "Most of the families that came to small communities are privately sponsored and those families are doing a great job in helping these families. So they try to help them in learning the language, taking them to the school sometimes."
She said translation and interpretation centres are not as available in smaller communities and Syrian women are often dependent on their children to help them learn English and translate for them when necessary.
Telfah said the support of the local families is critical in helping Syrian families settle in a new community.