No one is a refugee by choice. Thousands of people are forced to flee their homes out of fear for their lives and liberty. Imagine leaving behind everything you know – food, culture, friends, family. Imagine leaving behind your home, your possessions, your security. Imagine arriving in a strange land with only what you can carry. Imagine finding yourself in a refugee camp, living in a tent, wondering if you will ever be home again.
If this is all new to you, start by downloading Welcoming the Stranger, a Canadian Church Guide to Welcoming Refugees produced by EFC.
CBOQ supports refugees in two different ways:
The Canadian Private Sponsorship of Refugees program uniquely allows groups to sponsor refugees. Sponsorship is a commitment to ensure that sponsored refugees have the necessary support to integrate into life in Canada. This is a legal commitment providing basic financial support and care for the sponsored refugee(s) for 12 months.
CBOQ acts as the “Agreement Holder” with the Government of Canada. CBOQ member churches may sponsor refugees as Constituent Groups under this overarching agreement.
The process can be challenging but also fulfilling. Helping a refugee resettle in Canada gives them a chance to be home again, a chance to rebuild their lives. You can help.
There are some refugees who arrive with literally nothing. They are not sponsored by any individual, church or group – but simply cross our border with no way to navigate on their own. These are known as refugee claimants. In 2017 there was a significant increase in the number of claimants arriving in Canada. In 2018, more than 55,000 people arrived in Canada seeking asylum, 90% arriving in Ontario and Quebec.
We are grateful for the ministry of Matthew House that offer appropriate shelter geared specifically toward the unique settlement needs of refugee claimants. The first Matthew House, in Toronto, grew out of the vision of the need and a passion to respond, of Anne Woolger. As the Executive Director of the Toronto Matthew House, Anne and staff regularly speak at churches and other groups, educating the public about the plight of refugees and the need for people to reach out to them. There are now four Matthew Houses in Ontario: Matthew House Fort Erie, Matthew House Ottawa, Matthew House Toronto, Matthew House Windsor.
When a refugee is ready to settle and begin their new life in Canada, the gift of friendship and encouragement can make an immeasurable difference.
Interested in refugee ministries?
There are many ways to serve refugees. Contact Kevin Long CBOQ’s Refugee Liaison to explore opportunities.