Can Enhanced Digital Literacy Support Refugee Settlement In Canada?
Digital literacy is a crucial skill for anyone looking to connect with people and networks, find services in their communities, search for organizations, or even get directions for commuting in cities and neighbourhoods. A lot of time, effort, and money can be saved in seeking out and accessing services through digital means. It can be argued that independence, empowerment, and confidence are all linked to digital literacy in the present world in some way. The Mothers Matters Centre (MMC) seeks to explore how enhancing digital literacy and the resulting confidence and empowerment that come from this skillset can facilitate and expedite the settlement process for vulnerable and isolated Government Assisted Refugee (GAR) mothers in Canada.
Refugee women arriving to Canada bring with them unique experiences of war and persecution, including violence, fear, and loss. Once in Canada, these experiences may be further compounded by post-trauma emotional and physical health issues, unfamiliarity with local culture, and lack of social support. In times like this digital literacy and access to smart devices can facilitate mothers in settlement, save them the distress of not knowing where to go for services, and possibly reduce application processing times for important services.
As part of its Reviving Hope and Home (RHH) project, the MMC hosted a training session for its partner staff at Immigrant Services Society of BC (ISSofBC) on October 16th, 2019, to equip them with the expertise they will need to introduce the tablets provided by The Rumie Initiative to GAR mothers. The plan for implementation is to distribute the Rumie Tablets to GAR mothers with preloaded resources and the Advisor Arrival App that will support mothers in their efforts to enhance their digital literacy, thereby improving their confidence and facilitating effective settlement with easy and offline digital access to information on settlement services. The MMC will document the Rumie Tablet pilot initiative to gauge effectiveness, usage patterns, and the resulting comfort and confidence levels of GAR mothers using the tablet and app.
What is The Rumie Tablet?
The Rumie Tablet is a learning solution pre-loaded with interactive educational content that is tailored to meet the needs of the user. It has been used in over 20 countries across the world to empower the most vulnerable communities through digital literacy. In Canada, it is being used in Ontario for language learning and support for immigrants, enabling them to settle into their new surroundings more effectively, and for encouraging language learning in Indigenous communities across the country. It has been used with refugees and displaced populations in multiple countries and has showed positive results in helping communities bridge educational and settlement gaps during and after displacement. The MMC is piloting use of the Rumie tablet with the Arrival Advisor app preloaded onto it.
What is the Arrival Advisor App?
The Arrival Advisor (developed by PeaceGeeks) is an application targeted at immigrants and refugees that acts as a guide through their settlement process by disseminating the information found in the Newcomers’ Guide to BC and BC211. It is available in English, French, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog and Punjabi. It provides guidance on steps immigrants and refugees need to take to settle in Canada like learning English, enrolling children in school, seeking legal assistance, enrolling for healthcare, obtaining a Social Insure Number and accessing other social services.
How Do RHH Staff Feel About Introducing The Rumie Tablets and The Arrival Advisor App to Mothers?
RHH staff are unique as they are comprised of refugee and immigrant mothers who were previously in the position of the mothers they help. Therefore, the staff sentiments and analysis of pilots is of the utmost importance to the MMC. RHH staff feel excited about launching the Rumie Tablets and have been trained comprehensively to be able to support mothers in the best way possible. RHH staff plan to use the calendar on the tablets for scheduling home visits, parent-teacher meetings, group meetings, and other events to encourage the mothers to use the tablets regularly.
How do we plan to use The Rumie Tablet?
How will we know if it worked?
The MMC has predicted the following outcomes:
- Mothers report increased digital literacy and increased confidence by being able to operate the Rumie Tablet and access diverse resources through its use;
- Mothers report being better connected with the community through active use of the Rumie Tablet to keep track of important engagements such as school meetings, community events, and HIPPY appointments;
- Home Visitors and Coordinators report that the Rumie Tablet is an empowering tool for mothers in the program and a useful resource for scheduling RHH calendar.
Introducing the Rumie Tablet and the Arrival Advisor App in the RHH pilot is a journey to discover the best approach to enable positive outcomes for the settlement of GAR mothers in Canada. We are prepared to learn, be flexible, and adapt in this pilot as we anticipate challenges associated with the mothers’ literacy, comfort level with ICTs (Information, Communication, and Technology), and willingness to use technology. But we are moving forward believing if we can help mothers take small steps in building their confidence, we can make a big difference in their settlement process and experience.