Our Coldstream Quaker Meeting has supported refugees for many years. We have four methods of providing assistance:
Direct Sponsorship – A committee of four people from the Coldstream Meeting assist in making applications to bring refugees to Canada, raising funds to cover related sponsorship costs and supporting the newcomers on an on-going basis. The committee works with the Anglican Church who has a Master Agreement with Canada. Three refugees arrived in October 2019. They are co-sponsored by family members and receive support from the Meeting as needed. There is one additional person in process, but we have no clear idea of when he will arrive.
Inter Faith Refugee Program – Members of the Refugee Committee participate with a group, started by a Roman Catholic parish in London, but now much more diverse. This inter-church group has been very helpful in fund-raising and helping the newcomers integrate and feel welcome. Two young Kurdish men from Iraq were sponsored and both are now independent and employed. One newcomer arrived in October; he is co-sponsored by the group and his family. We applied for three more people to come, but we have not had a response to these applications. We have committed to assist a Kurdish family of five from Iraq, subject to being able to obtain funding. The two original newcomers hosted a picnic in Springbank Park as a thank you this past summer.
Group of Five – A group of five is a government term for a group of citizens with a minimum of five members. This group was established in London and asked for our assistance with one of our Coldstream members as a liaison. Its client arrived in November 2018, learned English, has a job and brought his wife and two children to Canada in September 2019. The Group of Five worked with the Roman Catholic Church as the master agreement holder.
Informal contacts have been made through the refugee network and help has been given as needs have been identified.
Coldstream has a legal responsibility for the first year after the refugee arrives to ensure that they are housed, fed, educated and acclimatized. We have gone the route of working with families who are able to provide most of the money and services themselves since we are a small group. However, the families would not be able to bring other family members to Canada if they did not have our support. Help with clothing, furniture, social opportunities are very welcome. Although the legal requirement ends, the relationships continue and are richer with shared experiences and better English!
Coldstream Meeting has been very supportive in donating money and items as well as providing the book-keeping required to support the newcomers. A dinner was held in 2018 to welcome newcomers, form connections between the Meeting and the Inter-Faith Committee and to encourage continued fund raising. Another celebration is planned for springtime.
The Refugee Committee is open to including new members. Please speak to Joyce H. or George W.