Most refugee families in Abbotsford now housed

English lessons set to begin next week, with employment the next step for dozens of recent arrivals.

A recent arrival poses for a picture at a welcoming event in march for refugees from Syria.

It has taken longer than expected, but housing has now been found for the majority of the government-assisted refugee families that arrived in Abbotsford in February.

With four more families moving into homes this week, 16 of the 22 families who came to the city earlier this year are now living in their own spaces. Those housed include two families that have moved to Mission and Chilliwack.

Of the remaining six, one is expected to move into a home in May, while three will be moving to Surrey. Abbotsford Community Services (ACS) workers will continue to seek spots for the two remaining families.

Donna Lo, the manager of settlement services at ACS, says the challenge has been the size of the families, with it particularly difficult to find homes for families comprising eight to 10 members.

The families, though, are quickly adjusting to life in Canada. Around 90 children have been in Abbotsford schools for around a months now, and their parents will start English classes next week.

“They are very excited,” Lo said.

While only a couple have more than rudimentary English, the adults have become more adept at using the transit system and getting around on their own, Lo said.

“It’s a huge learning curve.”

As their English improves, the ACS workers – all immigrants themselves – will turn to finding employment for the adults. Already, ACS has a list of employers who have said they have job openings.