First Met – St John Refugee Sponsorship Group

The Refugee Sponsorship Group is a joint undertaking between First Metropolitan United Church and St. John the Divine Anglican Church, both located in downtown Victoria, B.C. We are working together to sponsor refugees through the Canadian government’s Privately Sponsored Refugee Program. We are a constituent group under the Anglican Diocese of BC that is a Sponsorship Agreement Holder with the Government of Canada. As sponsors, we need to raise the funds needed to support the family during their first year as well as help with the practical issues of settling into a new country, a new culture and to meet the challenge of learning a new language.

Update on Refugee Sponsorship, March 25, 2016:

In partnership with our neighbour, St John the Divine Anglican Church, we are supporting two newcomers from Afghanistan who arrived in September, 2015 and we are also fundraising for three additional sponsorships. We had originally planned to sponsor a refugee from the Syrian LGBTI community, however, due to privacy reasons, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has not been able to identify LGBTI Syrian refugees in immediate need of sponsorship. While waiting for this situation to be resolved, we be- came aware of the case of an LGBTI man from The Gambia, Africa in need of private sponsorship. Our Refugee Sponsorship Group decided to respond to this immediate call for assistance. Because it is a referred case from a Canadian Visa office, all the paperwork is in place and arrangements are moving very quickly. We believe he will be arriving in Victoria very soon, maybe as soon as early April!

Our Fundraising for the three new sponsorships is well underway and between pledges and donations we have about 65% of our target amount of $42,500. If you would like to assist with a donation, please make your cheque to First Metropolitan United Church and include “Refugee Sponsorship” on the memo field. As one of our fundraisers, we are planning a Big Band concert for an evening in late May, more details to follow. We hope you and your friends will be able to join us for a lively evening!

I would like to express my thanks to all of you who have supported refugee sponsorship through your prayers, your volunteering and your financial contributions. For more information about our refugee sponsorship activities please contact Kathy Cook at 250-370-0991 or firstmetrefugeeproject@gmail.com.

Current Sponsorship of Refugees from Afghanistan:

We are now supporting a sister and her half-brother who came as refugees from Afghanistan and arrived in Victoria in September, 2015. They have joined her daughter and their sister, who both came to Canada several years ago as government assisted refugees. This sponsorship is now completely funded and we are focussing on assisting with their settlement in Victoria. Both newcomers are making good progress in English classes at the Inter-Cultural Association (ICA), and they meet several times a week with members of our group for extra conversation practice.

Future Sponsorships in Progress:

Mother and Son Reunification:

The woman we are sponsoring from Afghanistan has an 11 year-old son that she would like to bring to Canada. A refugee arriving in Canada has a one-year window of opportunity to apply to Citizenship and Immigration Canada to bring in family members listed on their original application. While she was not able to take him with her when she first left, circumstances have changed and they would like to be reunited. As sponsors, we would be required to cover his costs of living for his first year in Canada. We estimate this cost to be about $10,000.

Palestinian Family with Three Children:

This Palestinian family was living in Iraq, but fled to Syria in 2011 due to recriminations against Palestinians in Iraq following the second Gulf War. They currently live in Jaramana, a Palestinian refugee camp just outside Damascus which has been the site of fighting between the Syrian Army and opposition forces. Life is very dangerous there and the conditions of daily existence extremely challenging. The mother of this family is the daughter of refugees that were sponsored by St. John the Divine Anglican Church and came to Canada in 2010. Sponsorship costs are expected to be about $50,000.

LGBTI Syrian Refugee:

Refugees from the Syrian LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and inter-sex) community are at great risk of harm if their sexual orientation is discovered while they are resident in a Refugee Camp. The UNHCR attempts to house LGBTI refugees in safe houses away from the camps to ensure their safety. We would like to sponsor an LGBTI Syrian Refugee that has been identified by the UNHCR as a high priority need for resettlement. We estimate the cost of sponsoring a single person in Victoria to be about $27,000.

We anticipate that the cost of these three additional sponsorships will be $85,000. Our goal at First Met is to raise half of the cost of sponsorship: $42,500

OUR GOAL AT FIRST MET IS TO RAISE HALF OF THE COST OF SPONSORSHIP: $42,500

How to Donate

Donations by cheque can be dropped off or mailed to the First Metropolitan Office, 932 Balmoral Road, Victoria, BC  V8T 1A8.  Please include “Refugee Sponsorship” in the memo field of your cheque.  If you would like to direct your donation to the sponsorship of a Syrian from the LQBTI community, please include “LQBTI Refugee Sponsorship” in the memo field of your cheque.  To get a charitable tax receipt for your donation, please include your full name and address.

You may make a regular or one time donation with your credit card through the First Metropolitan Canada Helps  and select the “Refugee Sponsorship” or “LGBTI Syrian  Refugee Sponsorship”  fund.

 Join our Refugee Sponsorship Group

Our group is welcoming new members to join our group.  We are especially looking for individuals with fundraising and event-organizing experience.  To learn more about our refugee sponsorship group, please contact Kathy Cook at 250-370-0091 or firstmetrefugeeproject@gmail.com.