As the first of 25,000 refugees in Canada have started arriving, a few Canadian startups are doing their part to make newcomers feel welcome.
One of these startups is Hamilton-based Tasytt, which offers an onboarding platform for companies to track the progress of employees while helping new hires become familiarized. Tasytt’s team created an online resource for Syrian refugees to learn about their new home. Offered in Arabic and English, the guide includes tips like how to access health care and education, how taxes and banking works, and the police and political issues in Canada.
Offered in Arabic and English, the guide includes tips like how to access health care and education, and political issues in Canada.
The company collaborated with settlement organizations like Lifeline Syria and enlisted the help of fellow Canadians on subreddit r/Canada to discover some of the most pressing issues that new Canadians may face. According to Tasytt co-founder and CEO, Chris Buttenham, the point was to create a guide for Syrians including “tacit knowledge” from Canadians about everyday issues that they may not really think about, like always checking the weather and street rules.
Buttenham said that while he was moved by the warm welcome that many Syrian refugees experienced upon arriving in Canada, he realized that the process of getting accustomed to a country and actually accessing resources would still take a long time. “There were many stories about organizations and communities banding together to help. The government is offering a slew of resources to refugees, and companies are giving cell phones and reduced rates to newcomers,” said Buttenham. “But I realized that the process of accessing these resources, the paperwork and bureaucracy, make it difficult to navigate at the best of times. If you’re trying to overcome a language barrier and adjust to a new country, it would be terrifying.”
As the Tasytt platform works by helping new employees adjust to new companies, Buttenham said that creating a guide for newcomers wasn’t a completely new challenge for his team. “It’s amazing how many similarities there are between adjusting to a new company and a new country. That’s not something even I realized until recently,” said Buttenham. “An ideal introduction is fast, explains processes, habits, aspects of culture that aren’t explicit; and of course, is up to date. During onboarding, it’s important that newcomers be able to reference new material when and where it’s convenient for them instead of feeling pressured to memorize it the first time. This is a million times easier when there’s one hub for all the information.”
While the guide is live, anyone is encouraged to contribute by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Related: Toronto’s Rumie empowering Syrian children in refugee camps with #LearnSyria initiative