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.
“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