A Message from Sheryl Bruggeling of the Mennonite Central Committee

I wanted to share with everyone an abridged version of message being distributed by the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). It provides some background to the program I just outlined.

Greetings,

We are dealing with a crises of an immense proportion and it calls on us to respond in an unprecedented ways. Since 1979, MCC has been involved in the private sponsorship and resettlement of refugee program and we are thrilled to be connecting with you.

In refugee sponsorship, building relationships with refugees and creating a community for them is central to our program  philosophy. Over the years we have worked with refugees, we have seen how friendships started and deep relationship formed between newcomers and their sponsors. Through this relationship, networks have been created and newcomers have been able to settle and integrate better in their new country.

The tragic event of last week in Europe has left painfully disturbing images of the Syrian refugees.  Prior to that  tragedy MCC had made the sponsorship of refugees from the Middle East its strategic priority. With the drowning of Aylan Kurdi, his brother, mother and many others, the need to respond has gotten even more urgent. For this reason MCC is reaching out to its supporting churches and the broader Canadian community to partner with us in responding to this crises of immense proportion by sponsoring a refugee family from either Syria or Iraq. Through our involvement  in refugee sponsorship, hope for the once desperate has been renewed and a sense of purpose re established.

[Here] is the link to MCC Refugee Sponsorship Program FAQs: http://mcccanada.ca/sites/mcccanada.ca/files/media/common/documents/faq_2.pdf

In  the past three years, we have involved in  the resettlement of refugees through the blended (cost sharing) program with the Government.  The refugees who have been identified for resettlement through the blended program will receive up to 40% of their financial support from the Government plus health coverage. The blended model of sponsorship has made sponsoring refugees possible for even the smallest congregations/community groups.

In terms of next steps, once your group  says YES to sponsorship, I will ask you  to form a core committee… The committee will then decide on the family size to sponsor based on the resources available. I will then take it from there and work with the group through the next steps of completing the sponsorship papers. Together, we can help a refugee family find safety and renewed hope in your community in less than 4 months.

Excitedly looking forward to working with you!

Sheryl Bruggeling

Manager of Events & Communications | IVEP Coordinator
Mennonite Central Committee

22-595 Carlton Street, St. Catharines, ON L2M 4Y2
Phone: 905-646-3161
http://mcccanada.ca/

Relief, development and peace in the name of Christ

Steps for Sponsoring via the Mennonite Central Committee

I couldn’t be happier to share the news, anticipated in a previous post, that the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) has indeed agreed to handle the paperwork for any London-area group that wishes to sponsor a refugee family. This is exceedingly generous of them, and will make the logistics of bringing families here much easier.

There are two routes, depending upon whether your group has identified a specific refugee family overseas (“named cases”).

For such Named cases, the steps are:

  1. Fund raise enough money to cover 12 months of support. MCC has even offered to help with this: your group can create a Giving Registry with them.
  2. You draft a Settlement plan. (MCC has templates to help with this step. I can forward it upon request.)
  3. MCC assists with the government paperwork to bring the family in question to London, but some of it must be completed by your group members.

For the other cases, which will be processed via the Blended Visa Office Referred program, the process is even easier, though there are more steps:

  1. The group decides how large a family it wishes to support.
  2. As above, it fund raises enough to cover settlement. (However, if I understand correctly, only six months need be covered, since the Feds partly match the donation.) Here again, groups are allowed to use a MCC-based Giving Registry.
  3. As above, the group crafts a settlement plan.
  4. MCC receives profiles of families from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and they forward an appropriate profile to your group. You decide on a good fit, and give the “go ahead”.
  5. MCC completes all of the paperwork for you, requiring only a signature.
  6. The family arrives within one to four months.

For additional information, please see: http://mcccanada.ca/get-involved/events/refugee-sponsorship-information-session

Agenda for Tonight’s Meeting

Open Meeting for Sponsoring

Refugees from the Syrian Crisis

Agenda

1. Welcome – Social Justice Club, Central High School

2. Meeting Overview: The Proposed Three Stages – Robert Stainton, Western Ontario Friends of Refugees

3. Raising Funds and Awareness – Corrine Rahman, Office of the Mayor

4. Sponsorship Paperwork – Michael Loebach, M. Loebach Law

5. Welcoming Families – Mariam Hamou, Syrian Refugee Fund Committee

6. Next Steps: Three Task Forces – Jeff Crittenden, Metropolitan United Church

Note: For each Agenda item, the speaker will make a brief presentation to set the stage, and then the floor will be opened for questions and suggestions.

Talks in Linguistics at Western this Fall

All Talks in University Campus Centre, Room 61, unless noted otherwise.

October 23rd, 2:00pm
Rob Stainton, University of Western Ontario
“Contextualism and Relevance Theory”
October 30th, 2:00pm
Mercedes Tubino-Blanco, Western Michigan University
“Dative subjects in Spanish”

November 6th, 2:00pm
Christen Allen, University of Western Ontario
“Applicative Structure in Wolof”

November 10th, 12:00pm, Room SH 3355
Harold Torrence, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
Title TBA.

November 20th, 3:00pm, Room 3B15, A&H Building
Shana Poplack, University of Ottawa
(Talk organized by the Transatlantic Studies Seminar for Hispanic Studies, MLL)

Wanted: Housing Near Victoria Hospital (and Elsewhere)

A member of our little Western Ontario Friends of Refugees group, Dr. Jenn Epp, has asked me to share a request. Her Mennonite church, Valleyview, has sponsored a family that should be here in October. They are looking for a two bedroom apartment near Victoria Hospital for the family, because they have a child who will require on-going medical treatment. If anyone knows of a place, please contact Jenn directly at: <jepp5@uwo.ca>.

Jenn is also putting together a list of potential housing options. So, if you have suggestions for that, please pass those along to her as well.

Basic Distinctions when Sponsoring Refugees

From the Webinar I learned a series of important distinctions within Canada’s refugee sponsorship process. I will try to capture the main thrust here.

  1. There are two kinds of refugees recognized by international organizations. “Convention refugees” are those groups who are fleeing persecution in their homeland. “Country of Asylum refugees” are those who are fleeing armed conflict. Thus the refugees we attempting to sponsor will mostly belong to the latter group.
  2. Simplifying, there are two kinds of groups which can sponsor refugees. There are standing organizations which do not need to be assessed as appropriate sponsors, called “Sponsorship Agreement Holders“. Then there are ad hoc groups who want to sponsor a family but do not plan to become recurring sponsors. Most notable here are “Groups of Five” (which can actually be rather larger than five.) The paperwork for becoming an authorized Group of Five is quite onerous: the members must prove that they have a detailed and viable plan for financing and resettlement, that they have the present and future monetary resources, etc.
  3. To sponsor an unknown family, the best route is the Blended Visa Office Referred program. Citizenship and Immigration Canada identifies a family as eligible refugees needing sponsorship. The Federal Government commits to providing six months of financial assistance, to the level set by the province in question. A private group, via a Sponsorship Agreement Holder, covers all “start up costs” plus an additional six months of assistance. (For example, to sponsor a family of four, the group would need to provide $7000 of “start up costs” plus $10,000 of ongoing assistance.)
  4. To sponsor a particular family that one has identified overseas, in contrast, that family must have obtained a “Refugee Status Recognition Document” on its own. This is the official proof of refugee status, and is to be contrasted with the UNHCR registration documents. No matching funds will be provided by the Federal Government. Also, the monies donated to bring the family here are not tax deductible. (They are treated, basically, as a gift directly to the family.)

You can listen to the entire Webinar at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLYC1tE59sU&feature=youtu.be

Upcoming Webinars on Sponsoring Refugees

I “attended” one of these — is ‘attended’ the right verb? — and found it extremely informative. To anyone who is trying to organize a sponsorship, I recommend signing up.

Webinar #1

Title: Overview of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program

Date: September 29, 2015

Time: 2:00p.m. – 3:30p.m. (EDT, Eastern Daylight Time)

To register, click here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2283727801458359041

Webinar #2

Title: Overview of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program

Date: October 6, 2015

Time: 1:00p.m. – 2:30p.m. (EDT, Eastern Daylight Time)

To register, click here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4468207816869085185

Webinar #3

Title: Overview of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program

Date: October 21, 2015

Time: 6:00p.m. – 7:30p.m. (EDT, Eastern Daylight Time)

To register, click here:  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6359022569992781057

Clothing Drive for Syrian Refugees

Ben and Jennifer Hill <bhill28@uwo.ca> are starting a clothing drive, collecting and organizing winter coats, boots, jackets, clothes, etc for refugee families. If you have things you can donate, please get in touch with them directly.

Meanwhile, I will try to find out how to get the clothing to refugee families in need. (Those who know, drop me a line!)

Let me remind everyone that donations in-kind may reduce the amount of cash we need to raise. So don’t be shy about putting dollar value on your gifts.

More Western Ontario Folks Helping Out

The Faculty of Social Science at Western, under the leadership of Dr. Victoria Esses of the Centre for Research on Migration and Ethnic Relations, is also raising funds to sponsor a Syrian refugee family.

See http://ssc.uwo.ca/refugee_sponsorship_fund.html for more information. This affords another method for making a tax deductible donation. As it says on the website, “Donate online by clicking: www.canadahelps.org/dn/9556 and when asked to select the fund your donation will support, choose “Western Social Science Refugee Sponsorship” from the dropdown.”