Refugee Resettlement

listerRefugee-graphic-banner-full-size 

Church Council approved the undertaking of a new sponsorship for a refugee group.  A committee composed of both Leaside U.C. members and representatives from several community support groups has been established, a budget approved and a format sponsorship application has been submitted.  Your financial support is welcomed.  Further details re needed practical items will be shared in the near future.  Bob and Lis Lister at 416-757-1491 or at aelister@sympatico.ca.

Monetary gifts may also be donated through the website in the left sidebar, scroll down to the “DONATE” button and click to pay online by Credit Card or Interac.  Remember to designate in the “purpose” section of the donation form to: “REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT”.

  listerRefugee-graphic-button


October 10, 2017

Ibrahim Family Settling In: Refugee Update


It’s been a month since the Ibrahim family’s arrival in Canada! They arrived on August 10th. They have started adjusting to life in the City and have settled in their new home (which they love). Here’s a snap shot of what they’ve been up to:

1. Discovering the City: the family has already discovered many Toronto landmarks such as Woodbine Beach, Centre Island, Chinatown and (getting lost on) the TTC. Next up: Niagara Falls (see below)!

2. Language and Education: all members of the family completed language assessments and are enrolled in English as a Second Language classes, except the youngest one Simav, whose English is good enough to allow her to start high school right away (she started last week in grade 9/10 classes).

Ahmed and Mohammed (both age 21), who up until now had been meeting with an English tutor almost daily, are starting with level 1 ESL classes – they need to improve their English before starting adult high school classes to work towards their high school diplomas.

Like the boys, Ms. Ibrahim is attending daily ESL classes. She’s very eager to learn English and has already picked up some words and phrases!

Yasmin (age 22) has very good English language skills but still needs ESL classes to prepare for her high school assessment exam. She plans to take mandatory high school classes and then start a college/university program. She is in the process of researching post secondary programs and hopes to decide in the coming months what she wants to study. Prior to coming to Canada, she had studied 2 years of law in University. Like the boys, Ms. Ibrahim is attending daily ESL classes. She’s very eager to learn English and has already picked up some words and phrases!

Next steps and how you can get involved:

1. Activities: As noted above, the family is getting busy with school and language programs, but they are still eager to discover the city and the region. Here is what is in store for the next month or so:
a. They’re visiting Niagara Falls on September 24th!
b. The boys enjoy playing soccer (and they’re good at it!) so we are planning a soccer game on October 1st.

2. Math Tutor: We are looking for math tutors for Yasmin and Simav. Please let us know if you are able to assist or if you know of someone who can.

3. Employment Opportunities: We have started exploring part time employment options for Ahmed, Mohammed, and Yasmin. They’re all eager to start working! Ahmed and Mohammed are looking for any employment that is flexible (evenings and weekends) and that does not require a high level of English language skills. Yasmin is looking for any part-time job where she can practice her English. If you have any leads on jobs for any of them, please let us know.

4. Winter Clothing: we are looking for new or gently worn fall and winter clothing (women’s sizes small, medium, and large, and boys size medium). If you have suitable donations please let us know.

5. Financial Assistance: We continue to accept donations as the family settles in. If you would like to contribute financial support:
a) by cheque, make it payable to: “LEASIDE UNITED CHURCH” and write on the Memo Line – “Ibrahim Family” and mail to “Leaside United Church, 822 Millwood Road, Toronto, ON, M4G 1W4 OR
b) by website, via “www.leasideunited.org” and the “DONATE” sign, including “Ibrahim Family” in the memo box.

The family has expressed their gratitude of your involvement and support many times over the last few weeks – your help is greatly appreciated!


February 1, 2017

 

After more than one year of waiting, our church-sponsored family of mom and dad, plus their three delightful young sons have finally arrived.

They are settling well into their apartment in Thorncliffe Park.  The boys have started school. They are in three different classes and enjoying making friends and learning.

The parents are busy setting up their home and getting all their federal and provincial documents. 

It is an absolute gift to see the smiles on the children’s faces as they play with their toys, witness Mom say joyfully, with outstretched arms, “ My kitchen!” and hear Dad say “It feels like a dream.” 

Once they get more settled, they look forward to meeting and thanking the community and Leaside United Church families.  

Thank you to all who have supported them on their journey to safety and opportunity in Canada.      

Bob and Lis Lister
on behalf of LUCCRRC (Leaside United Church Community Refugee Resettlement Committee)


refugeesponsorship

 

January 3, 2017

It is indeed wonderful to be able to announce that there are two pieces of great news to begin 2017!

First, our Leaside United Church (LUC) Syrian refugee family shall be arriving in Toronto later in January 2017.  This shall be almost exactly 13 months after the Leaside United Church Community Refugee Resettlement Committee (LUCCRRC) was first formed and church sponsorship was formally initiated.

The family consists of parents, plus their three sons – twin four-year-olds and a six year old. They are very excited!  We have been blessed that the dad works as a translator of English and he has been teaching his wife and sons this new language during the long wait.  Together, we have all learned great patience!

The committee members are searching for suitable accommodations.  We are looking for a 2 or 3 bedroom apartment and hopefully it will be close to the Thorncliffe / Flemingdon area.  The family’s safe arrival shall be a wonderful New Year’s gift!!

Second, during October and November, LUC embarked on a special one-time fund-raiser for a Congolese refugee family of seven, now living in Calgary.  The sponsoring group-of-five Canadian families wanted to find a way to pay back or greatly reduce the family’s approximate $10,000 government loan for their medical, administration and travel expenses.  This debt was a heavy burden to the New Canadian family and the father worried greatly about paying back this loan.

Through the donations of a number of people and $1000 from LUC’s Outreach Committee, a total of $6960 was raised.  Over 50% of this amount came from non- Leaside Church members, who had heard the story and responded with great generosity.

We had the privilege and absolute joy of presenting this totally unexpected Christmas gift to the family in mid-December.

Their repeated words of thanks, smiles and hugs, filled us with tears of joy!

Thank you to all who responded.

So. 2017 at Leaside United Church begins with much for which to give thanks.

Blessings,

Bob and Lis Lister for LUCCRRC


luccrrc-gp-sept-12
LUC Refugee Sponsorship Update Nov. 10, 2016

Leaside United Church is currently sponsoring two Syrian families and awaiting their arrival.

These sponsorships are overseen by the Leaside United Church Community Refugee Resettlement Committee (LUCCRRC).
 
Family #1 
Has 5 members and are currently residing in Kuwait.  This family consists of dad and mom, plus 3 young sons. They speak Arabic.  
The father, works at two jobs and is an English translator. He continues to teach English to his wife, who shares her learning with their three boys.  We are very fortunate that we are able to communicate regularly by email and LUCCRRC members send weekly letters of encouragement and support.  There is great joy, hope and gratitude in messages – both sent and received.
 
The family members have had their: assessment interviews, medicals, security checks and “Good Conduct Certificates”.  Upon consultation with the United Church of Canada Refugee Coordinators this spring, we had estimated that this family’s arrival date would be this past summer.  We have heard over the last month from the government that no further support to expedite Syrian families has been allocated.  We are all learning to adopt a new level of patience. 
Since Feb. 2016, we have been waiting with: people who are willing and ready to support their transition into life in Toronto. money that has been set aside for their life in Canada and storage unit full of furniture.   
Emails and skyping opportunities have helped with the wait.  
 
Family #2 
This family is comprised of 4 adults and a youth:  mom, twin males, and two daughters. They speak Kurdish and Arabic.

The family is still in the Kurdish region of Iraq.  They are doing well but are anxious about the safety situation in the region. One of the family members is still working; and his brother continues to look for work; the daughters are in school; and the mom has chronic back pain but is otherwise well.  In September, we sent the family $2000 to assist with their daily living expenses. The only working family member has been the sole income earner for the family since July. He earns approximately $300 working in a restaurant in Erbil (the rest of the family lives 3 hours away in Duhok).

 
We have arranged for the family to receive English classes from a native English speaker. They have two 1-hour sessions per week. They have been enjoying these classes very much and we are starting to see improvements in their English! We also have been skyping with the family on a bi-weekly basis to give them an opportunity to practice their English and continue building a relationship with us.

The last update from the Government regarding this sponsorship application was received on November 10th.  They “have been informed that the background checks are still in process for the family.  I [i.e., MP Rob Oliphant’s office] will contact you once I receive more information about the file”.

We shall continue to keep LUC members updated re any significant developments in the lives and sponsorship of our refugee families.

Please keep both families in your hearts and prayers.

 Lis and Bob Lister, Co-Chairs, LUCCRRC


Special Outreach News October 24, 2016

As many know, our church has sponsored two Syrian refugee families. It is our hope that one of them shall arrive by Christmas. We are fortunate that we are able to communicate with one family and all of us are learning to be patient.

In the meantime, we are helping other new refugee families resettling in Canada. They have been identified by the Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office (TNO). Leaside United Church has been able to give them much-needed household items and furniture, generated by donations to our Awesome Sale. The Outreach Committee had approved a $500 “shopping budget” to purchase these things. As a result, the needed items are being shipped to two very grateful families in need. During the summer, this also happened. It is truly a Win-Win-Win situation!!!

Also, the Outreach Committee has approved a very special refugee support project. A refugee family of seven is being sponsored by a group of 5 Alberta families in Calgary. Both parents and children are attending school. They are steadily adjusting to life in Canada after spending 20 years in a refugee camp where their 5 children were born.

The family lives on a very basic monthly support.

Because they’re not Syrian refugees, the federal government does not pay their travel/medical fees of about $10 000. This loan weighs very heavily on the family. We hope that our fundraising shall reduce this burden.

In Alberta, living conditions are quite tough with huge job, money and morale issues. As a result, the following special project was approved by both the Outreach Committee and by the LUC Council.

It is noteworthy that:
1. a fund named the “Alberta Refugee Fund” is set up.

2. the Outreach Committee is contributing $1 000.

3. there people wishing to donate now the fund is set up.

4. it is hoped that at least $5000 could be raised by the deadline date of Monday, November 21st 2016. This is a very short time period so that it shall not interfere with the Annual Stewardship Campaign.

5. Cheques may be made out to “Leaside United Church” – Memo line: “Alberta Refugee Fund” and mailed / delivered to the church at 822 Millwood Rd., Toronto, ON M4G 1W4. All donors shall receive a tax receipt.

6. To donate on-line, by credit card or by Paypal, go to the LEFT-HAND SIDE BANNER on any screen. Locate the “DONATE” symbol and click on it. Then, in the empty “PURPOSE” box, key in “ALBERTA REFUGEE FUND” and complete the rest of the donation information.

Our church has a wonderful legacy of refugee support and “helping those in need”.

Thank you for your consideration of supporting this special outreach project.
Bob and Lis Lister, Co-Chairs, LUC Community Refugee Resettlement Committee (LUCCRRC)


LUC Refugee Sponsorship Update June 21, 2016

Leaside United Church is currently sponsoring two Syrian families and awaiting their arrival.

These sponsorships are overseen by the Leaside United Church Community Refugee Resettlement Committee (LUCCRRC).

Family #1 has 5 members consisting of dad and mom, plus three young sons.  They are currently residing in Kuwait where the father works at two jobs and is an English translator.  We are very fortunate since he is both teaching English to his family members and is also able to communicate regularly by email to LUCCRRC, who send weekly letters of encouragement and support.  There is great joy, hope and gratitude in their messages.

The family members have had their assessment interviews, their medicals, their security checks and have recently received their “Good Conduct Certificate”.  These documents are being forwarded to the regional Canadian Visa Office which has to send them to Canada for final Immigration Canada approval.  Once that approval is obtained then Canadian officials send the “ok” back to the oversees regional office, where the International Organization for Migration (IOM), is contacted and then coordinates travel to Canada for this family.  Upon consultation with the United Church of Canada Refugee Coordinators, we estimate this family’s arrival date to be during this summer.  Fortunately, we receive a minimum of 10 to 14 day notice.  Also, we have temporary accommodation available until we can rent a suitable space.

Family #2 is comprised of 4 adults and a youth:  mom, twin males, and two daughters.  This family has fled to Iraq where their living conditions are difficult. They speak Kurdish and Arabic and are not near any official Canadian Visa Office, so that processing and approval of their sponsorship shall be more challenging.  Fortunately, the law firm and friends, working under the LUC sponsorship, have both translators on its Refugee Committee and also, personal contacts in a city some distance from the family.

Although a number of possible actions are being explored which would provide practical, educational and moral support for the family in its current living situation, critical government assistance in establishing and accelerating the official processing of their cases is being sought.  This continues to be a significant challenge!

We shall continue to keep LUC members updated re any significant developments in the lives and sponsorship of our refugee families.

Please keep both families in your hearts and prayers.

 Lis and Bob Lister, Co-Chairs,

LUCCRRC

LUC Refugee Update April 7, 2016

Since Leaside United Church is currently awaiting the arrival of two Syrian families and refugee committee members have been attending many important meetings during the past two weeks, we wish to offer this background information about the current Syrian refugee sponsorship situation as we understand it.

Below is a summary of information, written by the TO4refugee group www.TO4refugees.org, which was circulated by “Refugee Resettlement Supporters” who were demonstrating on Tuesday April 5th outside the CD Howe Institute in Toronto, where Immigration Minister John McCallum was speaking.  We were pleased that the Minister stopped for 5 minutes or so to speak with us. Minister McCallum agreed to meet with John Sewell today, Thursday, April 7.

Download (DOC, 7.63MB)

From the time it was elected in mid-October until the end of February, 2016, a scant four and a half months, the Canadian government helped more than 25,000 thousand Syrian refugees come to Canada.  It was an outstanding achievement!

Canadians also came forward to show their concern and help.  Thousands of groups were formed across the country to sponsor Syrian refugee families, coming together to raise funds to support a family for a year and to help integrate them into Canadian society.  Many of those sponsorship groups have not yet been assigned a family, or have been assigned a family which is now caught in limbo, and it is unclear when the family will arrive here.   At Leaside United Church, we have sponsored two Syrian families yet to arrive.  Sponsorship groups had the impression that the families would arrive in three months.  This conclusion was drawn since government sponsored refugees took that long to reach Canada.

Refugee Advocacy
Refugee Advocacy

Then, the government changed policy by reducing the staff needed to process refugee applications both across the world and in Winnipeg, our “clearing place” for refugee applications.  Now, it is unclear if the families which have been identified will arrive in five, eight or twelve months.  The families who have been identified are in many cases exchanging emails with their sponsors.  If a group has not been matched with a sponsor it is being told that the family will not arrive until 2017.  This is unfair, unjust and unethical!

The three most important policy changes needed are:

  1. The government should restore staffing capacity in both the Middle East and Winnipeg offices, so it can quickly process Syrian refugees.
  2. All sponsorship groups which have applied by the end of April should be allotted a family, and the government should undertake that the family will arrive within three months, that is no later than the end of July.
  3. All sponsorship groups whose application is both fully approved and whose members are already in communication with their matched Syrian family, should be given priority processing.

We hope that this is both informative and empowering.

Bob and Lis Lister, Co-Chairs,

Leaside United Church Community Refugee Resettlement Committee (LUCCRRC)