Manual for Refugee Parents and Children on Their Rights and Responsibilities Related to Education in the Canadian School System

Researchers: Shauna Labman and Menal Al Fekih           
Affiliation: University of Manitoba
Research Partner: Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba Inc., Newcomer Education Coalition, and Manitoba Education and Training
Keywords: refugee parents, refugee students, school system, education, support
Jump to: Methodology, Findings, Publications & Reports


Objective: To prepare a manual for refugee parents and children on their rights and responsibilities related to education in the Canadian school system.

Justification: The Canadian school system is difficult to navigate for parents who have lived in Canada their whole lives, let alone refugee parents learning to adapt to a new system with a vastly different set up than their home countries. Yet, research has shown that parents’ involvement in their children’s education is a significant factor in their academic success.

Practical goal: This study created an easily accessible and understandable manual specifically for refugee parents that will empower them with the knowledge and information required to participate in their children’s education as well as advocate for their children.

Primary audience: Refugee parents and children and service providers


Through semi-structured interviews with recently arrived refugee parents and collaboration with education and immigrant service providers in Winnipeg, legal questions and concerns regarding the Canadian school system were identified. A law student at the University of Manitoba worked to compile legal information relating to:

  1. Framework and structure of Canadian school system

  2. Registration and attendance

  3. Suspension, expulsion, and discipline

  4. Students with special needs

  5. Privacy and discrimination

  6. Custodial and non-custodial parents and family

  7. Other identified issues


  • The manual translates legal jargon into simple language that is accessible and easy for refugee parents to understand. It will act as a resource for refugee parents and service providers to help families navigate the education system in Manitoba, specifically Winnipeg. The manual also serves as a resource and directory to more specific and detailed sources of information.

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