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by Rebecca Walker, World Renew Refugee Coordinator; Cameron Klapwyk, World Renew Refugee Program Associate; Kathryn Teeluck, World Renew Refugee Associate; and, Jeanette Romkema, Global Learning Partner consultant
Churches can be a blessing to newcomers and their communities when they reach out and support refugee and immigrant families. This is what missional engagement can look like. Below are a few excerpts from a NEW Refugee Sponsorship Handbook that will be shared with you soon on The Lighthouse website, from World Renew. It is our hope that this resource and this newsletter will assist you in your journey to sponsor refugees, support newcomers or discern your role as a church in this area.
Who is a Refugee?
Who is a refugee? Well, the short answer is: Refugees are our neighbours. When we think of refugees we often hear the Biblical call to “welcome the stranger.” And welcoming the stranger is a good first step. But in this increasingly interconnected world, these “strangers” are our neighbours and we need each other. When one part of a community struggles, the entire community is incomplete – the entire community hurts.
According to the United Nations Convention of 1951 to which Canada is a signatory, a refugee is “a person who, because of well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his/her nationality and is unable or afraid to ask for protection in that country, or not having a country of nationality, is outside the country where he/she usually lived, and is unable or afraid to return to that country.”
A person isn’t a refugee by choice. A person is a refugee by the discriminating choices of others.
The ideal solution for most refugees is repatriation—the resettling of refugees back to their country of origin.
For those who cannot return home, a second solution is for the refugee to create a new life in their country of asylum. However, if neither of these solutions is possible, refugees may be resettled to a third country, such as Canada.
It is important to note that refugee resettlement is a last resort solution. Only 1% of refugees worldwide will be resettled outside their country of origin or asylum.
Canada is unique because it is the only country that allows sponsorship of refugees by private organizations and citizens. World Renew is one of over 100 Canadian organizations that have been granted a sponsorship agreement by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
World Renew’s sponsorship agreement allows churches and groups in Canada, to work together to sponsor refugees.
What is Private Refugee Sponsorship?
The Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program (PSRP) gives Canadians the unique opportunity to play a meaningful role in the welcome and integration of refugees to Canada. In the program, administered by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), sponsors apply to resettle refugees who are approved overseas for protection. After the refugees arrive in Canada the sponsor walks alongside these refugees and provides ‘hands on’ support to assist them with settling well in their new community and country. Sponsors provide support with such things as accessing medical services, applying for necessary documents, opening a bank account and learning how to use public transportation. Since the beginning of the PSRP in 1979 the program has allowed Canadians to offer protection and a new home to more than 275,000 refugees.
Having signed an agreement with the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, World Renew is a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH). This allows World Renew to approve churches and groups who wish to sponsor refugees under its agreement. Privately sponsored refugees arrive in Canada as Permanent Residents. They must settle in the same community as their sponsor.
10 Helpful Tips
Below is a collection of refugee sponsorship good practices gathered from the collective wisdom of the many churches and groups that have sponsored refugees with World Renew over the years.
For more information about refugee sponsorship or the Refugee Sponsorship Handbook, please contact Rebecca Walker at World Renew: email@example.com, 1-800-730-3490 x4389, or 905-336-2920 x4389.
World Refugee Day is on June 20th. Lets take a look at the refugee claimant process:
For more information about World Refugee Day, please visit our resource page.
On Tuesday, June 20, we celebrate refugees’ courage in overcoming adversity and the many gifts they bring to our communities. As refugees and friends of refugees, we know the challenges newcomers face and the need for improved policies to help refugees rebuild their lives in the United States.
It’s more important than ever for community members to come together and share how they support refugees with their local, provincial, and federal policy makers.
The Lighthouse looking for volunteers (aged 13 and over) to assist with our Summer Drop-In Program. Our program caters to children (aged 4-12) from the neighbourhood community in the Annex and Palmerston area. The goal of this program is to provide a fun summer experience for children of low-income and newcomer families. Volunteers will assist with crafts, snacks, games, and other activities.
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