On Nov. 14, the Syrian Refugee Group of Fort St. James held a town hall meeting to discuss developments regarding the refugee sponsorship process.
About 25 members of the community attended and were ready to give their input.
Within the last year, the Refugee Group has been dedicated to raising enough funds in support of sponsoring a Syrian Family in Fort St. James.
The group has currently raised $41,143 and members are thankful for all of the community support received.
The sponsorship process is currently being run through the Central Mennonite Committee who has been providing continued support and advice throughout the sponsorship process.
More recently, the process has taken on a few changes.
The Canadian Government has now put on various restrictions regarding the entire process. Syrian Refugees are no longer being accepted into Canada.
Currently, there are no Syrian families available to sponsor.
According to the Central Mennonite Committee, the amount of sponsored Syrian Refugee families has been fulfilled for the time being and they have not received any lists of potential refugees from the government since spring.
However, the possibility of sponsoring a refugee family from elsewhere such as Africa or Egypt is a possibility and one that the Refugee Group is seriously considering.
There are three ways to sponsor refugees anywhere around the world according to the Central Mennonite Committee.
The First is a Blended Visa Office Referral where the cost is shared with the government. This is a one year agreement.
The second option is a Joint Assessed Sponsorship that holds no financial obligations. The government covers all costs and the community would be responsible for 2 years with resettlement, education, language, schooling etc.
And the last option is the Complete Private Sponsorship where the community would be responsible for all financial needs with a one year commitment. This option, however, is a long process which means that a potential family would not arrive for a number of months or even years.
The Refugee group proposed the first option to sponsor any available refugee family, not necessarily a Syrian Family.
There was no opposition in applying for the first option, a BVOR refugee case with no Syrian Family stipulation.
“A refugee is a refugee,” said Louise Evans-Salt, a member of the Refugee Group said.
“At the end of the day, we are helping a family in need.”
The Caledonia Courier continues to be a proud supporter of the Syrian Refugee Group of Fort St. James.