Submitted by Sabine Lehr, Private Sponsorship of Refugees Manager
On 20 September 2016, the Anglican Diocese of BC and ICA gathered to mark the first anniversary of the death of young Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi which had resulted in a huge surge in refugee sponsorship interest across Canada and here in Victoria. Last September, Canadians were shocked and moved by the magnitude of the refugee crisis which dominated the Canadian media for several months. Thousands of ordinary Canadians stepped up to privately sponsor refugees. The new Canadian Government elected in October 2015 started implementing its ambitious goal to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of February 2016.
During the event on September 20, the Anglican Diocese and ICA recapped the amazing response by Victorians who will have supported the resettlement of several hundred newcomers by the end of 2016. In addition, Victoria will also have welcomed over 300 Government-Assisted Refugees by year’s end.
Over the last few months, however, interest in private sponsorship of refugees has declined across the country, including in Victoria. Both the Anglican Diocese and ICA are receiving many more requests for sponsorship from established and recently resettled residents than we have sponsors for. Almost every person recently resettled to Victoria has other family members that had to flee their home countries and who are now living in neighbouring countries in difficult circumstances.
The Diocese and ICA – both Sponsorship Agreement Holders with the Canadian Government – are urging persons interested in forming a sponsorship group and exploring refugee sponsorship to get in touch. The contact person/email at the Diocese is Rebecca Siebert (firstname.lastname@example.org), and at ICA is Sabine Lehr (email@example.com). Either organization would be happy to explore sponsorship opportunities with you.