WHAT IS REFUGEE SPONSORSHIP?
The Refugee Sponsorship Program is a humanitarian service that assists persons fleeing from persecution and violence in their home countries. It aims to minister to marginalized families as they resettle in a new country with a culture that is different from theirs. Refugee sponsorship entails a 12 month commitment in which the pastor, parishioners who set up a settlement committee and in some cases family members who work together to set up a home, offer financial support to meet the basic costs of living and provide care and support to help refugees and their families adjust to life and establish themselves in Canada.
Our Archdiocese is one of about a hundred private sponsor groups across Canada. Assisting refugee settlement in our country has always been a part of our archdiocesan ministries. Over the centuries, our parishioners are comprised of people who had fled wars, oppressive regimes, persecution for the practice of our Christian faith, ethnic cleansings. In more recent history following the 1951 United Nations Convention for Refugees, the larger groups we have assisted and integrated were the Vietnamese, Ugandan Asians, Iranians, Bosnians, Kosovars, to name a few.
Since the signing of our agreement with the federal government as a Sponsorship Agreement Holder, we began to officially undertake the private sponsorship of refugees within the scope of the program. Our efforts to record our refugee movements started in 2007, and to date 41 parishes have welcomed more than 1,800 refugees. Refugee families arrived from a vast number of locations including Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Burma and Tibet.
One notable year was in 2013 when we welcomed 550 people! Moreover, we have extended our sponsorship agreement to Whitehorse, Prince George, Kamloops and Victoria to enable them to sponsor using our agreement.
For many years, parishes in the Archdiocese of Vancouver have supported refugees often in conjunction with family members already settled in Canada. The Refugee Sponsorship Program provides support to the parish sponsoring committees by assisting them with the extensive application paper work and providing advice on what is needed for successful sponsoring including the preparation for arrival and post settlement of each refugee.
PROGRAM GUIDELINES: Sponsoring a Refugee
Check out the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website here for all information regarding the Refugee Sponsorship Program.
Newly arrived refugees with their sponsoring Parishes, Canadian Martyrs Catholic Church, Richmond (Left) and Saint Patrick’s Parish, Maple Ridge (Right).