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 and supporting the newcomers as needs arise on an on-going basis. Three women and one young man arrived in the fall of 2019 and another newcomer arrived in December 2020. The women have now moved to BC. The young man is working while the recent arrival is studying English. They were all co-sponsored by their extended family. The committee works with the Anglican Church that has a Master Agreement with Canada
Inter Faith Refugee Program – Members of the Refugee Committee participate with a group, started by a Roman Catholic parish in London, but is 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. A Kurdish family of five from Iraq has been approved and hopefully will arrive soon with a very generous donation from the Medical Imaging Department at Western University. A fund raising initiative at the end of 2020 supplemented the funds required for an additional man whose application is now under review by the government.
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.
There is currently a Group of Five consisting of five Coldstream Quaker Friends sponsoring a young refugee from Pakistan who spent seven years on Manus Island under brutal conditions and is now being held in Australia with no hope of obtaining Australian citizenship. This young man was targeted by the Taliban for promoting human rights and education in Pakistan. Our Group of Five is awaiting approval of his sponsorship application so this young man will have the opportunity to begin a new and productive life in Canada.
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. The committee has held in dinners to welcome newcomers, form connections between the Meeting and the Inter-Faith Committee and to encourage continued fund raising.
The Refugee Committee includes Carl T, Sheila H, George W and Joyce H and is open to including new members. Please speak to Joyce H or George W.