By Shaheera Rahin, COA Toronto

Canadian Orientation Abroad (COA)’s Refugee Youth Program Assistant, Shaheera Rahin, recently attended a Migrant Training meeting for IOM pre-departure orientation staff in Oslo.

During her visit to the Norwegian capital, Rahin shared her expertise and COA’s latest programming initiative in the “Refugee Youth Program” – which is jointly implemented by the YMCA of Greater Toronto and COA. COA’s Refugee Youth Program stood out as a strong example in the effective implementation of an innovative approach in refugee youth outreach.

Overall, the Oslo meeting was a professionally-rewarding experience, albeit too short, as time with pre-departure orientation colleagues, from different refugee-sending countries, went too fast.

"It presented me with the opportunity to learn about different government-funded projects serving very different clienteles, and to hear about various means to approach pre- and post-arrival services. 

It also allowed me to gain a wider perspective in terms of where Canada and COA stand when it comes to the training and integration of migrants. It reconfirmed to me that Canada’s (re)settlement system is strong and that the Canadian Orientation Abroad (COA) program is a strong program, perhaps the strongest, in terms of resource development and innovative ways to reach out to different categories of migrants (immigrants, refugees, and youth)."

A great showcase of these practices is COA’s provision of referrals and connections to adults and youth refugee participants, bridging the gap between COA’s pre-arrival services and post-arrival organizations in Canada.

COA’s longstanding use of forms, written materials, in-person trainings and online resources in participants’ mother tongues also help meet diverse and varied global needs. The meeting included a focused discussion on how IOM can continue to leverage its pre-departure orientation training capacity and global footprint to remain a major actor in linking pre-arrival and post-arrival services, and COA stands as an effective example of these processes.

"I also met with Sarah McGregor, COA’s Intern Consultant from Geneva, who was at the meeting to present the COA Refugee Youth Training Activities Toolbox, prepared by a former COA Refugee Facilitator, Joel Gibson (from COA Malaysia), in coordination with the Global Program Manager, Louise Belanger, based in Geneva. I am pleased to report that Sarah’s presentation of the COA Refugee Youth Toolbox and my presentation on the Refugee Youth Program were warmly received by all meeting participants who were eager to engage with our resources and program as much as I was to learn about theirs."

"I am thankful to the organizers for facilitating the meeting and bringing together pre-departure orientation staff from different countries. Since I work remotely, in Toronto, and away from the IOM Ottawa office, it was useful to connect with other IOM staff, exchange and compare best practices, approaches and methodology focused on building the capacity of IOM’s programs in order to better address the needs of our migrant beneficiaries."

This story first appeared in the Canadian Orientation Abroad Newsletter on 27 February 2018:

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