Letter to Parishes of the Diocese of Rupert’s Land
Re: Syrian Refugees
Dear Friends in the Diocese,
I am writing to each congregations in the Diocese about the crisis we see and hear about nightly on our newscasts – the plight of 4 million Syrian refugees. I am hoping that some of the congregations in the Diocese may feel called to respond with an open heart and be willing to help a few of these desperate people. We all know at best we can assist only a few but that help brings hope to those few who otherwise have little reason to look forward to the future.
Specifically, I am hoping that some of you will want to get involved personally and decide to sponsor one individual or even a family through the Diocese of Rupert’s Land Agreement with the Government of Canada to sponsor refugees privately. Any congregation in the Diocese can become a Constituent Group of the Diocese for this purpose. As Christians, we are called upon to welcome the stranger and here we have a real opportunity to live out that ministry.
What’s involved? You need to submit forms to Immigration ( I can help you with that) and you are required to commit to support the newcomer for the first year they are in Canada. The support is financial but also sponsors need to help people in practical ways such as finding accommodation, getting registered for medical coverage, a social insurance card, EAL classes and generally adapting to life in Canada. The sponsors get to become friends with “the stranger” and find this rewarding, enlightening and truly a chance to demonstrate our faith in action.
The amount of money that is needed for support varies on size of family being sponsored. A rough figure would be $10,000 for one person, $15,000 for two people, and increasing amounts as the family is larger. Of course, not all this money is needed up front. There is also a program offered by Immigration in which the financial costs are shared with the government for some people referred by the UNHCR. I can give you more details if you want to pursue this specific idea. One advantage to these sponsorships is that people are close to being ready to travel so there is not a long wait for newcomers. If you want more time to prepare, this is also possible to arrange.
Congregations may wish to join together to take on a sponsorship so they can share their resources and extend their capacity. There is also help for congregations who are new to sponsoring. Some congregations in our Diocese have been sponsoring for years and are available to answer questions and provide practical advice to those sponsoring for the first time. I am also available.
As Diocesan refugee coordinator, I would welcome the opportunity to talk with your vestry or outreach ministry team. I can be reached by email through [email protected] . I hope you will consider responding to this world crisis by committing to help a refugee.
Gail Schnabl, Refugee Coordinator, Diocese of Rupert’s Land