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Canada’s response to Venezuelan arrivals (CANVAS)

Crowd carrying a large flag of Venezuela down a street

Photo credit: Jose Argenis Arraiz

This research explores integration and settlement initiatives promoted by municipalities and community-based organizations that work with the Venezuelan newcomer population in Canada. We seek to analyze the strengths and limitations of the initiatives that have been developed since the beginning of the Venezuelan humanitarian crisis, including programs in smaller cities that have attracted Venezuelan newcomer populations during the last five years. The lessons learned will provide the basis for a comparative analysis between Canadian local initiatives and the practices applied by other cities dealing with the socioeconomic impact of the Venezuelan migration crisis. 

  1. What challenges have Venezuelan immigrants faced when accessing settlement services in major and small cities in Canada?
  2. What are the strengths of local and community-based initiatives related to the reception, assistance, protection, and socioeconomic and cultural integration of Venezuelan migrants, asylum seekers and refugees in Canada? 

In recent years, more than 6 million Venezuelans have fled their country, with the majority exiting after 2015. Most are now staying in other South American countries. This crisis has posed a major challenge to municipalities, NGOs and community-based organizations in the region. Since 2018, the Venezuelan newcomer population in Canada, particularly refugees and asylum seekers, has significantly increased in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Other cities, such as Calgary and Hamilton, have also attracted a new wave of Venezuelan immigrants, prompting the need to create new community-based organizations or to strengthen existing ones that promote the socioeconomic and cultural integration of Venezuelans. Knowledge about the practices and experiences of reception, settlement and integration promoted by these organizations is scant, and there is little research on how community organizations and diasporic groups are working toward the integration of Venezuelan newcomers into Canadian society. 

The study will combine available statistical data complemented with survey data and semi-structured interviews. The qualitative analysis of the interviews will contribute to a comparative analysis of practices and experiences of migrant integration and immigration policies across the Americas. 

The research is part of a multilateral initiative promoted by the Organization of American States (external link)  (OAS) that examines the capacities of local authorities involved in the reception and socioeconomic integration of migrants in more than 80 cities in North, Central and South America.

In May 2023, OAS released the report  (PDF file) Reception and Integration of Migrants and Refugees in Cities Across the Americas (external link) , which provides one of the first regional reviews of local migration institutions and policies in the Americas. See CERC Migration's news story for more details.

Qualitative and quantitative results from phase 1 (Nov. 2020 – Jul. 2022) are available in the Working Paper “ (PDF file) The Challenges of Settlement and Integration: Exploring Canada’s Response to Venezuelan Migration”.

Phase 1 addressed settlement issues from the perspective of service providers, including municipal, community-based and diasporic organizations based in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Vancouver, Moncton and Hamilton. In December 2022, our research team started working on phase 2. This phase includes interviews with Venezuelan migrants and refugees in the Canadian cities selected for this study.

Winter 2024

CERC Migration

Venezuela, newcomers, cities, municipalities, NGOs, diasporas, refugees