Syrian Refugee Group to hold town hall meeting

On Nov. 14, the Syrian Refugee Group of Fort St. James will be holding a town hall meeting to discuss recent developments.

  • Nov. 9, 2016 11:00 a.m.

Barbara Latkowski

Caledonia Courier

On Nov. 14, the Syrian Refugee Group of Fort St. James will be holding a town hall meeting to discuss recent developments regarding the refugee sponsorship process.

The group is asking for community input and all are invited.

Within the last year, the Syrian 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.

However, in light of recent circumstances, 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 is a possibility and one that the Syrian Refugee Group is seriously considering, but with the help from the community.

“This is not say that we can’t sponsor a Syrian family down the road,” said Louise Evans-Salt, a member of the Refugee Group.

“This could be a family from places such as Africa or Egypt. At the end of the day, we are helping a family in need.”

The Central Mennonite Committee states three ways for sponsoring refugees anywhere in the world.

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 would like to propose the first option to sponsor any available refugee family, not necessarily a Syrian Family.

The final decision is pending on community input from the town hall meeting and the group invites all questions and concerns.

The town hall meeting will be held on Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. at Fort St. James Secondary School.

The Caledonia Courier continues to be a proud supporter of the Syrian Refugee Group of Fort St. James.