RCMP creates “Newcomers” guide, shares with all Canadian police

Adjusting to life in Canada can be challenging for many newcomers. Learning new languages, customs and laws can be extremely overwhelming. The RCMP is taking steps to help put new residents at ease.

A project that started first as a way to help the 25,000 Syrian refugees arriving in Canada has now grown into a valuable tool aimed at assisting newcomers from a variety of cultures and language backgrounds.

When people from other countries move to Canada, they may bring with them very different attitudes toward police and justice. The RCMP has now developed new tools and practices to help newcomers adjust to life here.

A comprehensive Newcomer’s Guide about police has already translated into French, Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Punjabi and Farsi. The RCMP also created a template for community outreach sessions, and has conducted these in Arabic and Korean to date. Additionally, tools have been created and distributed to help raise awareness internally among police and support staff of the challenges faced by newcomers.

Covers of newcomer guide in different languages

The work started in the fall of 2015, when the RCMP deployed four Arabic speaking members to Jordan to get first-hand knowledge of the challenges facing the Syrian refugees. The four members deployed were tasked with representing Canadian policing in the most positive and empathetic way possible.

It was recognized some refugees would have little or no confidence in police due to experiences in Syria, and that RCMP and other police forces in Canada would need to do significant outreach to start building that trust.

The RCMP coordinated a national policing working group, and in BC the RCMP began work on the Newcomers Guide – translating it first into Arabic. The guide explains the basics of Canadian policing and law, and also ensured newcomers would be educated about their rights. A draft of the guide was shared with all Canadian police forces, so they could customize it to their cities or provinces. The BC RCMP made the guide available on their website at and also started working with local community groups to help get it to newcomers.

Additionally, training materials were developed for all front line personnel, including front counter staff and call takers. A presentation was developed called Working with Syrian Newcomers, which provides links to both internal and external resources on issues from hate crimes to drug use prevention. That presentation has been shared with detachment commanders across BC, and is designed to be customized to other cultural groups.

Other existing materials on fraud awareness, internet safety and a young children’s colouring handbook on safety have also been translated.

Because many newcomers have settled in Surrey, the RCMP has gone a step further in this city, holding small to large outreach sessions for Syrian refugee families, either in Arabic or through a translator. At these sessions the newcomers have the opportunity to ask questions directly to police officers, and learn some of the basics regarding how to contact the police, and the role of police in Canada.

Surrey RCMP quickly recognized these sessions could be valuable to other cultural groups, and in summer 2016 held a session in Korean as well.

Date modified: