More than 100,000 individuals forcefully deported from Bhutan lived in refugee camps for about twenty years before ten countries, including Canada, accepted to settle refugees in 2007. By 2011, Canada had welcomed 2,404 Bhutanese. In 2013, their number grew to 5,376 and by the end of 2015, nearly 6,600 Bhutanese refugees had settled in communities across the country.
Many refugees arrived in large Canadian centres, such as Vancouver or Toronto, but they gradually moved towards the smaller communities. With 1,300 Bhutanese individuals, or 20 percent of the total number of Bhutanese refugees in Canada, Lethbridge, the fourth-largest city in the province of Alberta, is now home to the largest Bhutanese community in the country.
Lethbridge’s popularity among Bhutanese grew rapidly, mostly because those who had settled here first managed to adapt quickly, they got jobs not long after arrival and eventually even bought houses. Some of them opened businesses, including a restaurant and two stores that sell traditional food and clothing. A non-profit organization called the Lethbridge Family Services Immigrant Services has helped most Bhutanese through their transition.
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