Helping refugees in Haliburton

By Jenn Watt

Around the world more than 60 million people have been displaced from their homeland. Syrians who have been in the news lately due to the brutal ongoing civil war represent the largest group with four million refugees.

On Friday Oct. 23 St. George’s Anglican Church is holding a special meeting for anyone interested in helping lessen one person’s or family’s burden by providing sponsorship here.

“We first thought we needed to find out more about it” said Barbara Fawcett churchwarden at St. George’s. “The refugees that came from Vietnam in the ’70s to Haliburton that was very successful at that time so we started looking into this way back last spring.”

They requested the assistance of AURA a charitable organization that assists refugees through sponsorship and resettlement and invited other church and community groups.

AURA’s executive director Ian McBride will be attending Friday’s meeting to explain what the process entails.

The Canadian government has committed to settle some 10000 Syrian refugees within the next year.
McBride explains that the most common type of refugee case is called the “blended visa office referred”  which is a refugee recommended by the Canadian government for settlement.

“Currently blended visa office referred cases are receiving some funds from the government of Canada in order to stimulate the possibilities of Canadian charities and the like to sponsor a refugee person or family” McBride said who has been working on refugee resettlement for more than 20 years.

When a refugee is sponsored by a community or group the federal government will put in about half of the cost it determines will be needed during that person’s first year in the country. It is up to the sponsoring group to come up with the remainder.

“Once they arrive sometimes they can work a little bit. There's no difficulty with them working it is more we try to make sure that they spend their time during the first 12 months making sure they learn English very well” he said.

During that time the community will be called upon to help with food lodging transportation and other necessities of life.

Refugees are permanent Canadian residents and while not all of them stay in the community that originally hosts them the vast majority remain in the host country he said.

To hear more from McBride and talk to others interested in sponsoring a refugee go to St. George’s Anglican Church at 617 Mountain St. in Haliburton on Friday Oct. 23. There is a free dinner at the church at 6 p.m. followed by the talk at 7 p.m.