These are exciting days. The Federal Government continues to ramp up efforts to welcome Syrian refugees. Yet some days I feel like the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) are speaking a dialect I should be able to understand… but can’t.
Here’s what we know for sure: More refugees will be accepted and arrive in Canada this year than at almost any other time in history.
We continue to seek clarity amid the challenges we are facing:
- There are many more Constituent groups ready to sponsor under the Blended Visa Office Referred (BVOR) program than there are families made available. Under the BVOR program, the Federal Government partners with Constituent groups approx. 50/50
- Many families whose applications were processed and approved in January and February have inexplicably not arrived, awaiting travel arrangement.
- Settlement agencies are stretched
- Housing, especially for GARs, is a challenge with many landlords outright refusing to lease or requiring co-signers.
We should not be deterred! We are still called to welcome the stranger! We can help by:
- For matches for churches waiting under the BVOR program
- That travel arrangements could be made quickly for those who have been approved
- For GARs who are looking for accommodations
- For the vast number of refugees in other areas who seem forgotten in this current initiative
- For churches who have received refugee families
- Contact your MP:
- Advocate for those refugee families who have been stalled in the system that travel arrangements would happen quickly. Their Constituent groups are ready and waiting
- Advocate that more BVOR cases be made available. Many groups are waiting and may lose interest. This initiative has the potential to raise the awareness and action surrounding refugee needs for many years to come
- Advocate for the many other refugee populations that seem ignored
- Look for the settlement agencies in your area and volunteer
- Volunteer at a local ESL
- Help another church in your area who has sponsored
- If there are refugee children who will be attending your local school, volunteer there to help them integrate
- There are lots of volunteer opportunities
- Consider co-signing on a lease for a refugee family. While this does involved a certain amount of risk, there are ways that can be minimized and it will give you the opportunity to be part of welcoming a refugee family.
So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory.
Romans 15:7 (MSG)