Chapter 1: The History of Settlement Services in Canada


Maria MacMinn Varvos

The Canadian settlement sector’s systems and best practices have evolved parallel to Canada’s immigration history. Settlement and integration services have moved from the informal guidance of family and community to organized systems instituted by professional organizations. Just as systems have grown and evolved over the past 150 years, so have social attitudes, social values, and morality. Government immigration policies reflect the social, religious, and economic state of the country. The social conscience and the economic needs of Canada have guided and influenced how settlement services have been supported and implemented (Griffith, 2015, 2017).

This chapter will give you historical knowledge as well as opportunities to reflect on, relate to, and understand the interconnectedness of history, social responsibility, and economy. You will learn the foundational factors that have contributed to the skills and best practices that are being developed throughout the Settlement program. Articles, videos, case studies, and interactive reflective practice activities will serve as the impetus for learning in this chapter.

Specific Learning Outcomes

By the end of this introduction section, you will be able to

  1. Apply prior knowledge and experience to the history of settlement discussions and activities
  2. Demonstrate understanding of keywords used in this chapter

Learning Activity 1: Reflective Practice – Keep a Chapter Journal

In the first section of this chapter, you will explore and share your prior knowledge of immigration and settlement in Canada.

Start a chapter journal to track your observations and learnings. Answer the following questions in your chapter journal:

  1. Have you or someone you know had an experience that required settlement services?
  2. Describe the challenge and the solution. Who was involved? What resources were used?

Discussion Forum: Share one of your answers on the Discussion Forum. Read the posts of your peers, write comments, and ask questions to start a dialogue.

Key Terms

Every sector has a body of knowledge that is accompanied by sector-specific language and acronyms. Sector-specific language can be thought of as a subsector of a familiar language. Learning these keywords and acronyms will facilitate the communication of shared knowledge in this course as well in the sector when employed. A short “Settlement Sector” language lesson follows.

The following terms will be encountered in this chapter:

AAISA Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies
EAL English as Another Language
ESL English as a Second Language
First-generation immigrant
A person whose parents were born outside Canada
Immigrant A person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country
IRCC Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada
Landed immigrant The classification for a person who has been admitted to Canada as
a non-Canadian-citizen permanent resident
LINC Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada
Milestone An action or event marking a significant change or stage in development
Newcomer A person who has recently arrived in Canada
NGO Non-governmental organization
Nominee A temporary foreign worker who is eligible to apply for permanent resident status
Non-profit Non-profit or not-for-profit organizations are organizations that do not earn profits for their owners
PR Permanent Resident
Racism Prejudice or discrimination against a person or people based on their being part of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized
Refugee A person who has been forced to leave their country to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster
Second-generation immigrant Children of parents whose own parents were born to parents who were born outside Canada
Sector An area that is distinct from other areas
Settlement services Services or agencies that help immigrants and refugees settle and adjust to life in a new country
Xenophobia Excessive fear, dislike, and/or hostility toward anything “foreign”


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Canadian Settlement in Action: History and Future Copyright © 2021 by Maria MacMinn Varvos is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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