The UNHCR has brought special attention to the plight of the Iraqi refugees in Syria. Out of the over 10 million refugees around the world, the UNCHR has deemed that the Iraqi refugees in Syria are in dire situation and are in the greatest crisis. Refugees are integrated in urban Syrian communities, and not in the protected and well managed refugee camps. As a result, many families are forced into difficult circumstances such as the daughters resorting to prostitution to help the family survive.

Responding to the Iraqi refugee crisis, the Government of Canada pledged more assistance within the framework of its humanitarian program. In 2009, Canada announced an increase in its resettlement targets for Iraqi refugees. It is expected that by 2013 Canada will have welcomed about 20,000 Iraqi refugees all over the country.

 YVR_refugee_arrival_OLGC  YVR_refugee_arrival-St_George_Melkite
Refugee Arrival at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish – More than 40 parishioners came to greet an Iraqi family of 5 at Vancouver Airport, arriving from Damascus
Refugee Arrival at St. Georges Melkite Greek Mission – 3 Iraqis arrived from Damascus in 2008

Iraqi Christians

newMinister Kenney Meets With Iraqi Canadians During Visit to Vancouver


On Saturday, October 25, Minister Kenney participated in a panel discussion in Vancouver, organized by MP John Weston (West Vancouver- Sunshine Coast – Sea to Sky Country), on the various ways in which Canada is providing aid to Iraq and contributing to the security of Iraqi minorities and refugees fleeing the persecution of ISIS.

The following day Minister Kenney attended an Aramaic Mass at Sts. Peter and Paul Chaldean Catholic Church with the Iraqi community in Surrey, BC. Those present included recently arrived refugees from Iraq, a number of whom expressed to the Minister their deep gratitude to Canada for having welcomed their families and given them a new home. Canada has resettled approximately 19,000 Iraqi refugees in the past 5 years alone.


Recent B.C. Catholic articles

  • Intrepid woman triumphs over unspeakable tragedies: Hannah Asmaro, an Iraqi refugee, escaped to Syria, finally ended up in Canada…
  • Father Joseph Lee chats all things Korean: Pastor says parishioners had a discussion, decided to welcome Chaldeans…
  • Prayers for Middle East offered at Vancouver parish: Charity director warns about shariah law imposed in northern Iraq; mass Christian exodus continues…
  • Protestors denounce the persecution of Christians: Iraqi Canadian Muslim considers violence in Iraq a genocide; pleads for the safety of minorities…

Previous B.C. Catholic articles

  • Escaped priest now helps Syrian refugees resettle in British Columbia: A priest who escaped from Syria is now helping other Christian refugees flee oppression and resettle in cities in British Columbia…
  • Doing the Christian thing: Canada continue to help Iraqi refugees…
  • Permanent Residents are often overlooked. Refugee health reform helps the most needy…

Chaldean Cultural Dinners
Hosted by St. John the Apostle and Star of the Sea Parishes
By: Diane M. Chua

The Iraqi Chaldeans in the Lower Mainland began as a small group of 27 families and have grown to 600 families. Many of them were refugees sponsored by the Archdiocese of Vancouver in an effort to protect them from the dangers that threatened their very existence as Christians. In multi-cultural Canada, they now start a new life, with the freedom to worship in their ancient rites in Aramaic, the language of our Lord Jesus and be able to preserve their ancient culture.

Chaldean-Cultural-dinner-sponsored-by-Star-of-the-SeaOn the 30th of November 2013, St. John the Apostle Parish with the invaluable help of Madonna House hosted the first Chaldean cultural dinner. On the 15th of March 2014, Star of the Sea Parish also opened wide their doors for the Chaldeans to share their culture and food with an enthusiastic group of parishioners and guests. Tickets for the events were sold out.

We feasted on an abundance of appetizers and a most sumptuous buffet dinner, capped by a delicious array of desserts. We were entertained by traditional Chaldean songs, given a quick exposure to Chaldean art and culture through a video, a powerpoint presentation and a table display of artifacts. What topped the evening was the talk by the pastor, Rev. Sarmad Biloues, telling us what it was like to attend Mass amidst fear of the church being bombed or put on fire by extremists. He shared how a young boy from his catechism class reminded him to trust that God will take care of His people, bringing tears to many as we listened. The evenings ended with the joyous Chaldean dance and a warm feeling of an evening well spent.

Learn More about Refugees and Refugee Sponsorship

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) recognizes 11.4 million refugees worldwide under its mandate, and an additional 5 million Palestinian refugees are under the mandate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Worldwide, 51.2 million people are internally displaced by conflict or natural disaster and an estimated 12 million people are stateless.  Iraqi family sponsored by Christ the Redeemer
 Iraqi family sponsored by Christ the Redeemer Parish in West Vancouver


Read More

For refugees, there are three durable solutions: (1) voluntary repatriation, (2) local integration in the country of asylum, or (3) resettlement abroad.

Generally, individuals abroad do not apply directly to Canada for resettlement. Government assisted refugees for resettlement are referred to Canada by the UNHCR and other organizations. An additional, unique program to Canada permits private groups (which have signed an agreement with the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) to sponsor eligible refugees from abroad. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver has such an agreement with CIC.

Refugees & The Church


Eritrean families sponsored by St. Francis de Sales-2 Eritrean-families-sponsored-by-St-Francis-de-Sales
Eritrean families sponsored by St. Francis de Sales Parish in Burnaby



About the Refugee Sponsorship Program| Resources for Refugees
Refugee Sponsorship Program: Getting Involved | Refugee Sponsorship Program: News & Events

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