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Syrian Refugees

On January 24th, Glenayre residents met with Iris Challoner and representatives from Humanity4Syrians.org in order to hear about the range of options for supporting refugee families. 

What follows is an unvetted synopsis of that meeting.

(Note: Residents organized this event and covered all associated costs; the Community Association assisted by booking the hall and disseminating information as requested by the residents). 

Of note is that H4S helps to find and sponsor refugees who have family already living in Canada. This not only allows us to allay the fears and anxieties of our fellow Canadians, but it makes the resettlement process that much easier because there are already pre-existing support networks in place.

Basic learning:

  • There are a number of ways that people can get involved, including spending time and energy helping H4S, fundraising, and providing financial support.
  • H4S currently has a list of about 1000 refugees who have family relations in Canada. They range from single individuals to whole families. 
  • Canada is one of the only countries in the world that has a mechanism to allow its citizens to sponsor refugees; usually this is completely controlled by government
  • VanCity is offering a $50k home improvement loan that is interest free for 7 years if it is used towards providing shelter for refugees.

Option 1: Private Sponsorship

  • The sponsorship period is for one year
  • Five people can sponsor someone/a family
  • They would be required to have a criminal records search done and submit copies of their income tax filings before being approved
  • To privately sponsor a family of 5 costs around $29,700 
    • About $7k of that is furnishings, thus if we can supply used furnishings the cash portion decreases
    • About $16k is for food and shelter, thus if any of this is provided in kind then the cash portion decreases
    • Cash contributions as well as the provision of “free” shelter is eligible for a charitable receipt
  • Costs are reduced with a smaller family size

Option 2: Private Sponsorship through a 3rd Party

  • There are entities that have are pre-approved as sponsoring agencies, including the United Church and Mennonite Central Committee
  • People can make an arrangement with these entities, wherein they agree to provide a requisite level of support so that the agency can sponsor the refugee(s)
  • The sponsorship costs are the same as above and contributions of cash/shelter are similarly eligible for a charitable receipt

Option 3: Fundraising

  • If Glenayre residents are unable to personally support the sponsorship of refugee(s), would they be interested in undertaking to do some fundraising? For example:
    • At the school or with the PACS
    • Glenayre fundraising drive; pub night
    • Other? 

Option 4: Volunteering Time/Smaller Asks

  • Are you available to help with all the sorts of things that are needed for new refugees?
    • Providing free or discounted services (haircuts, internet hook-up, etc.)
    • Helping to write letters/fill forms
    • Taking refugees out for coffee or having them over for dinner (social connections)
    • Supplying gift cards (e.g. groceries)
    • Notifying/involving mayors in what we do (raises profile)

Next steps:

I am wondering if it makes sense for people interested in assisting with one of these options to forward their names to me along with the option(s) that they are interested in supporting? After that, we can create a couple groups: (options 1 + 2) and (options 3 + 4), and convene them in order to make a plan moving forward.

Could folks get back to me around this proposed plan by Feb 12, 2016? Thanks!

Email: gord.a.tulloch@gmail.com

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