FREDERICTON (GNB) – The following statement was issued today by Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Donald Arseneault on the occasion of World Refugee Day today:

Today, New Brunswickers join others around the world to recognize the courage and perseverance shown by refugees in overcoming many challenges to rebuild their lives.

World Refugee Day was created by the United Nations on Dec. 4, 2000 to bring attention to the plight of the world’s refugees. It is an important opportunity for us to pause and reflect on how we as individuals and communities can encourage, support and offer respect to refugees.

Over the past year and a half, I have seen tremendous generosity and compassion from New Brunswickers towards the Syrian refugees. We have supported the federal government’s initiative to resettle 25,000 refugees who were fleeing the civil war in Syria. Since December 2015, New Brunswick’s Refugee Assistance Program centres, immigrant-serving agencies, municipalities, sponsorship groups and volunteers have worked with province to resettle over 1,700 Syrian newcomers into their communities.

Your government has established a long-term immigration committee to oversee the continuing settlement needs of Syrian newcomers. This committee focuses on all aspects of integration including employment, job training, language training, workplace essential skills, education, health, public safety and equality for all family members. It also provides government programs and services with a newcomers lens to help better meet the needs of those landing in New Brunswick.

Every year, millions of men, women and children flee their homes in search of refuge. Your government will continue to co-ordinate with stakeholder groups to successfully integrate all newcomers into New Brunswick communities. Together, let us ensure that their rights and dignity are protected in New Brunswick, and that we extend to them a warm welcome and compassion.