International Migration Research Centre

Document Type

Policy Points

Publication Date



Balsillie School of International Affairs


Department of Sociology


The number of refugees in need of resettlement in the world is estimated to surpass 1.44 million people in 2020, with Syrians currently representing 40% of refugees in need of resettlement. In late 2015, the Canadian government made a commitment to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees and, since then, there has been abundant research analysing the large-scale resettlement process, its successes, limitations, and lessons for future policymaking and host communities.

This Policy Points contributes to these analyses by unpacking the particular lessons from the Kitchener-Waterloo region, and highlighting the resettlement experiences of privately sponsored Syrian refugees in this area. It draws on policy, program, and scholarly documents, and on a selection of 55 semi-structured, in-depth interviews with mainly privately sponsored (and some government-assisted) Syrian refugees on their experiences of resettlement in southern Ontario, Canada.

In this Policy Points, we emphasize that strong leadership by governments and civil society groups and organizations is crucial in the private sponsorship of Syrians, and that more policy attention and research are needed to improve the private sponsorship program in the K-W region.