More Happy News from Byron United

It’s always a pleasure to receive news from Pastor Greg Brawn from Byron United. Here’s the latest happy update:

Our fifth Syrian family arrived in London on Family Day – very appropriate!
So we now have all of our families here, except the one husband [has been separated from the family] for two years. We have word he could be with us in the coming weeks.

Perhaps in March, we will have a gathering for all five families and anyone else who wants to drop in to connect with them.
You and others involved in the “London-wide” coordination project are certainly welcome!

Meeting: Sharing Stories, Raising Funds

Please join us for an evening of sharing stories and exchanging insights.

Monday, February 29th at 6 p.m. at Central High, at the corner of Waterloo and Dufferin. (Kindly hosted by the Social Justice Club at Central High School.)

We will have brief chats by:

  • a refugee recently arrived from the crisis in Syria;
  • a group which has successfully sponsored refugees;
  • a Londoner who is trying to bring family here;
  • a group which is still working on their sponsorship application.

In addition to sharing our experiences, the meeting will also focus on strategies for fund raising.

Further to the Syrian Family Links Initiative…

To those looking to sponsor a refugee family, and to those who have family overseas and need help sponsoring them, please consider registering at this site:

http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/refugees/welcome/sponsor/family.asp

They are trying to do in a more formal, organized, way what some of us have been doing ad hoc here in London.

Welcoming Newcomers

I have received a message from Prof. Yahya Kharrat about a recent event at the London Muslim Mosque. An edited version appears below:

The new Canadians that sought refuge in Canada from Syria are arriving. So far, around 500 individuals arrived in London and more are expected by the end of March. [The Cross Cultural Learner Centre] CCLC, along with London Muslim Mosque, are doing a wonderful job in taking care of them.

I was asked to deliver our weekly Friday sermon in Arabic (because no refugees understood English) at the place they are staying… I went there and presented my sermon (Khutba). The theme was “Be Sincere and Loyal to Canada”. I elaborated on the Quranic verses and the sayings of Prophet Muhammad that are commanding Muslims to show appreciation, allegiance, and kindness to those who are offering help. Moreover, I talked about how Canada is now their new home; and how Islam taught us to integrate into a new society, and respect its laws and remain honest, hard-working and appreciative. Moreover, I also encouraged them to become active citizens and show faithful willingness to help others that way Canada helped them.

London Muslim Mosque is planning to make a public dinner for them and invite the Mayor of London and other government officials.

The new Canadians that I met after Khutba are so gracious to all the individuals and organizations that helped them to come to Canada, and who are now supporting them with the resettlement process. They send a special thanks to everyone that contributed, and hope that one day they can contribute back to this great country.

I should add that Prof. Kharrat’s brother and his family are presently refugees in Turkey, and colleagues here at Western are raising funds to sponsor them. If you can lend a hand, please contact Prof. Laurence De Looze at <ldelooze@uwo.ca>.

A Veritable Flood of Arrivals!

Alex Scholz, co-chair of the London Presbytery’s Refugees to Canada Steering Committee, writes with additional good news.

On Saturday, January 30th, the Syrian family of six that the Presbytery sponsored arrived here in London. They are already settling into their new home.

The Presbytery is already looking into taking on another sponsorship. Wonderful!

Another Family Arriving Soon

A couple of months ago, I wrote here about a group called Artemis, a group of seven London-area women who got together to do a sponsorship. My contact, Anne Marie Madziak, writes to say that they have finally been matched, by the Blend Visa Office Referred program, with a family of six.

As luck would have it, it’s a family with four sons! As Anne Marie says, “It will be quite the adventure — for all concerned”.The father and mother are in their forties, the sons are 20, 15, 13 and 6.

The Artemis group is expecting their family by the end of this month.

A word of thanks is due to the Mennonite Central Committee, which, as the Sponsorship Agreement Holder, steered the process along so successfully.

Refugees Arriving to London, ON!

Pastor Greg Brawn of Byron United wrote to tell me that they have two refugee families arriving in London this week. The first family consists of a husband and wife, and their four children. They escaped from Syria once they knew that a sponsorship could be arranged. That family flew into Montreal, and was expected here today, Wednesday.

The other family should arrive by Friday, minus one family member who will be arriving later. (If I understand correctly, he had been kidnapped, but was found safe and sound, and will now be reunited with his family here in London.)

As Pastor Greg notes, the families are coming as a direct result of donations which many of us made to the Metropolitan United Church back in August and September.

Another Family in Need

I received an email from Ms Gillian Brant of Byron United. They have been bringing families over from the Syrian crisis for some time now, including making use of donations that some of us made to Metropolitan United back in late Summer.

Her group has exhausted its resources, but have another family that they would like to help. It is a family of five, mother Adele and father Zachariah, and their three teenage children. They are Syrian Christians, presently in Lebanon.

We need a sponsorship group to step forward.

You may contact Ms Brant directly at <gillianbrant213@gmail.com>.

News on the Private Sponsorship Process

I don’t really understand the implications of this yet. I will try to find out and share what I learn. But it promises to open up another route for private sponsorships…

The Syrian Family Links Initiative (SFLI) is a program that enables Syrian Canadian citizens and permanent residents living in Canada (excluding Quebec) to identify their refugee family members residing in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey as prospective refugees who could be sponsored by Canadian sponsorship groups.

Some members of the Syrian community in Canada want to bring their family members to Canada but may not have the financial means to be a sponsor through the Private Sponsorship Program. At the same time, there are sponsorship groups in Canada who are ready to sponsor Syrian refugees but don’t know specific refugee(s) they could sponsor. This program will assist by connecting these two groups.

If you are a Syrian living in Canada, click the link below to register your family members as prospective sponsored refugees. Please note your family members must be living in Lebanon, Jordan or Turkey.  In order for the refugee family members to obtain an exit visa, it is important that they fulfill the refugee requirements in their current country of refuge.

If you are a sponsoring group ready to sponsor Syrian refugees, click the link below to register as a prospective sponsoring group. In order to be matched, a sponsoring group is required to be located in the same community as the family link in Canada.

The referring family members in Canada and the sponsorship groups will be contacted when an appropriate match is identified or if additional information is required.  Once matched, the two parties will connect to work out a sponsorship arrangement that meets the needs of all involved. Within 45 days, a Private Sponsorship of Refugee application will be submitted. The application will be processed in the same manner as other PSR applications.

Visit www.rstp.ca for additional information on private sponsorship of refugees.