Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society provides grassroots leadership and an inclusive process, with a voice for all community members, to ensure that our community grows and develops in a way that incorporates an environmental ethic, offers a range of housing and transportation choices, encourages a vibrant and cultural life and supports sustainable, meaningful employment and business opportunities.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Kootenay refugee sponsor groups praised in Parliamentary speech by MP Wayne Stetski

The Cranbrook Hub for Refugees
see video posted Feb. 25th

Kootenay refugee sponsor groups praised in Parliamentary speech by MP Wayne Stetski

Cranbrook Hub for Refugees co-chair Bonnie Spence-Vinge address a recent 
meeting of the group at Christ Church Anglican Hall in Cranbrook. 

The Cranbrook Hub for Refugees (CHR) was praised on the floor of Parliament last week along with several other Kootenay groups working to bring Syrian refugee families to Canada.

Kootenay Columbia MP Wayne Stetski told the House he was proud of the efforts being made in the Kootenays to provide new homes for refugee families in the Kootenays and earned an enthusiastic parliamentary round of applause for his efforts.

Stetski began by saying, “I rise in the House today to recognize the hard work of the constituents of Kootenay–Columbia who are organizing to bring Syrian refugees to Canada. Across my riding, we are blessed to have many groups of dedicated citizens working toward this important goal . . .” 

The Kootenay-Columbia MP then listed nine Kootenay Volunteer groups currently working to bring Syrian refugees here including CHR, the Catholic Refugee Group and the Baptist Group of Friends  all located in Cranbrook as well as the Kimberley Refugee Resettlement Group, the Creston Refugee Committee, the Kalso Refugee Committee, the Nelson Friends of Refugees, the Kootenay Refugee Committee and the Cathedral Refugee Committee, all located in Nelson.

He later added another group, Kootenay Cares for Refugees, a local grass roots group of friends after finding out they brought a Syrian family of four to Cranbrook Feb. 19 after originally trying to sponsor a family from Burma.

“My sincere thank you to everyone involved in this important initiative. It is a clear demonstration of the generosity of spirit that is so widely held in Kootenay-Columbia! I look forward to personally meeting many of our new citizens - having them here will enrich our lives and our communities,” Stetski said.

CHR co chairman Gerry Warner said it was gratifying to hear this kind of support coming from one of our local politicians. “Sponsoring refugees is a monumental effort and we welcome MP Stetski’s support. This is an extremely challenging  project and we need all the support we can get.”

Warner said CHR has now raised close to $32,000, just $8,000 short of its budgeted $40,000 to support a refugee family of four. But many of the families coming over are larger than four and more money be needed. he said. “And we’re only budgeting to support them at social assistance levels so it would be nice if we could raise more than we’ve budgeted,” he said.

Kootenay Anglican Diocese Refugee Co-ordinator Elizabeth Huether said since Jan. 21 no new refugee families have been available for the Kootenay groups that hold private sponsorship agreements in partnership with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). However, Huether said she expects this situation will change after March 9 when a new list of families needing sponsorships will become available.

“Some families have already been referred for settlement and there will be more. It’s a day to day thing and we just have to be patient and wait our turn. There will always be more families.”

Meanwhile close to a dozen CHR volunteer settlement teams are doing everything they can to prepare for the refugees. Temporary accomm0dation has been found, long term accommodation is being arranged, translators have been recruited, clothing collected, cultural workshops held and discussions held with School District 5 officials to arrange for the refugee children to go to school.

“There will be no problem with schooling,” said CHR Education Team Leader Anne Beurskens. “They will go to the school closest to their house, and if that one is full, they will go to the next closest school. We are ready for this.”

For more information, contact:
Gerry Warner – (250) 489-3271
Bonnie Spence-Vinge – (250) 426-4274

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