Francine Landry, a provincial cabinet minister of the Canadian province of New Brunswick, said that the province will not stop resettling Syrian refugees amidst concerns and rumors about the province’s inability to integrate them successfully into Canadian life.
In recent days, allegations have begun to swirl throughout the province that Syrian migrants have been stirring up trouble in New Brunswick schools, including threatening teachers, sexually harassing teens, and making anti-Semitic slurs. Emails have surfaced that reveal New Brunswick officials expressing concerns about their inability to deal with an influx of refugees. School officials have reported that some migrants have been bullying students and making advances on young teenage girls. One email wondered whether incidents like the Brussels attack would have a “trickle down” effect on disgruntled youths.
According to Peter Hasson of the Daily Caller, after receiving a tip about Fredericton High School in New Brunswick, Canadian news organizations submitted a freedom of information request to the school asking for any information regarding the problems schools might be having with the Syrian immigrants. News organizations received more 2,700 documents from Fredericton in response.
One email reported “issues surrounding gender/age divisions that seems important to our Syrian population – especially these older boys when it comes to their younger sisters.” Another email worried about the use of sexually explicit and violent language used in front of female classmates. A survey of resettled refugees in Canada revealed that almost 20% approved of marital rape and forced abortions.
The tip that launched the investigation into Fredericton was a Facebook post from a parent saying that refugees as old as 22 “with full beards and better built than the province’s hockey team” are enrolled in the school, where they try “hitting on the 14-15-year-old girls of that year but are being brushed off. It’s really ugly, the Canadian boys are very frustrated but are too scared to speak up (they know how dangerous the ‘you’re a racist’ label will be for the rest of their lives).”
According to CBC News New Brunswick, there are 372 refugees in 81 families that have been settled in Saint John, 320 refugees in 68 families in Moncton, and 342 in 62 families in Fredericton. The province is nearing its target of settling 1,500 refugees. “New Brunswick is a national leader in welcoming refugees who are fleeing humanitarian crisis in Syria. We are praised by the federal minister of immigration refugees and citizenship.” Currently, there are 238 people at the Riverside Resort and Conference Center in Mactaquac waiting to be transferred to smaller communities around the province.
Some right-wing media outlets such as the website Jihad Watch, are decrying what they see as political correctness to protect the rights and feelings of migrants at the expense of Canadian nationals. Supposedly, “the media, the police, the politicians” are too “petrified of being called ‘racist’” to investigate the incidents. However, some of the more inflammatory accusations forwarded by this media outlet have been challenged.
“Some misinformation probably was the cause for their concern,” says Landry, who serves as the minister of post-secondary education, training, and labor. “We straightened out the numbers and who is doing what and everything should be okay.”
The hysteria and racism of these sources mire the necessary conversation school and district officials must have about their integration and migration policies because students, teachers, and families have a right to be worried given the seriousness of these reports.