Before Daroo moved to Vancouver, he lived in Edmonton, Alberta. His sister had moved there, thanks to the UN Refugee Resettlement Program. A Canadian family sponsored him, so he travelled from Syria and Turkey to Canada, full of hope and expectations…
Edmonton had a thriving LGBTQ Community. He volunteered with a refugee support service, so thankful to be in Canada. Within a year, he met the man who would become his boyfriend. But it was very difficult to find a job. Daroo was unprepared for the open racism and discrimination that he faced in ultra-Conservative Alberta. He was not just called a fag and faggot, he was targeted as a Terrorist, after giving a public speech about the situation in Syria. He received death threats. He refused to remove the fact that he volunteered within the LGBTQ Community in Edmonton, from his resume. Finding a job became nearly impossible.
Daroo’s boyfriend was accepted into the Masters Program in Architecture at UBC, the University of British Columbia, and suggested that Daroo move with him, to Vancouver. He did, and immediately felt more at home in the City. Vancouver was more far more expensive and crowded than Edmonton. His frequent nightmares also put a strain on his relationship. Daroo and his boyfriend eventually parted ways.
Another door opened. Daroo applied to work at Save-On-Foods. His resume contained his volunteer work within the LGBTQ Community. The Manager who interviewed him, coaxed out the story of Daroo’s life in Syria, and his reasons for fleeing. He was hired on the spot.
With a job, came a shared apartment in a neighbourhood closer to work. More space to breathe and a sense of greater security. He built a small group of friends. His BA in English Literature lit a spark within Daroo. He wants to continue further studies at University, while continuing to work.
It goes without saying, that the young man who had lived through so much turmoil and terror in Syria, carried that same turmoil deep within himself, as he bravely navigated relative freedom, and a new life in Canada.
Daroo feels guilty that he is here, and his parents, other siblings and their families are still in North West Syria. As the impending Kurdish Genocide begins to unfold, he is filled with remorse for thinking only of his freedom. He wakes up in the middle of the night, in a cold sweat, worrying about his family and friends.
Rarely do those who suffer with PTSD, realize that it manifests itself without warning, dragging them into the darkness. This great challenge now facing Daroo, is one that so many other Canadians battle. Our mental healthcare and general healthcare systems are overwhelmed. There is a serious shortage of psychiatrists and psychologists. Getting an appointment to see one, requires a referral from another doctor.
The opioid crisis, the increase in refugees coming from oppression and war zones, plus our military and first responders need for psychiatric care, comes as a whole generation of doctors are retiring, and those who are now establishing their practices, are unable to take on new patients. This has all come together to create the perfect storm.
There is also serious shortage of general practitioners. I’ve tried to get Daroo into my exceptional Family Practice, but they are unable to take on new patients, even as the drastic need grows. Vancouver has some of the best coordinated healthcare in North America, thanks to Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health. They are desperate for more funding to meet the growing need.
Once again, am proud that Canada has welcomed so many Refugees in the past four years. The Federal and Provincial governments must address this healthcare crisis now, not down the road, and provide the additional funding needed. It is short-sighted not to do so. The long-term effects of untreated mental health issues, will push healthcare and related costs, through the roof. Daroo and Canadians across the Country, deserve the help they need NOW.
@UNHCR UN Refugee Agency @Refugees Cdn Council Refugees @ccrweb