Group puts plan in place to sponsor Syrian refugees

At the Kanata Stittsville Refugee Sponsorship Group meeting, Rev. Grant Dillenbeck answers questions on how to help Syrian refugees. Photo by Shannon Lough.

(Photo by Shannon Lough.)

The momentum sweeping across the country to help Syrian refugees has drawn the Kanata Stittsville Refugee Sponsorship Group to consider how it can sponsor the resettlement of one or more refugees from Syria.

On Wednesday night, the non-profit organization held a meeting to address the Syrian refugee issue along with updates on the sponsorship process to resettle three families from Afghanistan.

The meeting room in Stittsville United Church barely had enough chairs for the 25 people who came to learn more about helping Syrians, a noticeable change from the group’s usual attendance of seven or eight members.

“We wanted to find out more about the Syrian situation,” said Pat McNally, who was there to report back to his own congregation at the St. Thomas Anglican Church on how to sponsor a refugee.

Many of the people there said they were blown away after seeing reports of the refugee crisis on the news and wanted to do something about it.

The chair of the group, Rev. Grant Dillenbeck from Stittsville United Church, was there to answer questions but he also presented the challenges. He said most sponsorships take at least two to three years to get all the paper work in order before a family or individual can come to Canada.

The issue with Syria is even more complicated. There are over four million Syrian refugees registered through the United Nations refugee agency. Resources to support the processing of documents are stretched thin, according to Dillenbeck. The Canadian government has also stated it needs to ensure proper security screening before it can accept more refugees to put on the sponsorship list.

At the Kanata Stittsville Refugee Sponsorship Group meeting, Rev. Grant Dillenbeck answers questions on how to help Syrian refugees. Photo by Shannon Lough.
At the Kanata Stittsville Refugee Sponsorship Group meeting, Rev. Grant Dillenbeck answers questions on how to help Syrian refugees. Photo by Shannon Lough.


The problem is, Dillenbeck said, there are no Syrians on the list to sponsor except for one large family of 14 — which has already been taken.

Many people who came to the meeting were hoping to commit to a sponsorship right away.

“Tonight is a moment of opportunity,” Michael McKinley said to the group. “What prompts me tonight is the people who might actually die if we don’t take action.”

Dillenbeck encouraged people to take action immediately by sending money to agencies like UNICEF or the UNHCR that are helping Syrians in refugee camps. “Even if we decided to sponsor 100 families tonight it would take one to two years to get them here and they may starve before that,” he said.

The federal government has been criticized for its delayed response in accepting more Syrian refugees. During the election campaign the Conservative party promised to accelerate receiving 20,000 Syrians and Iraqis to Canada, but haven’t outlined how they intend to do that.

“We’ve heard tonight that there’s a public will,” Dillenbeck said. “We need the political will.”

The group is going to ask for donations from member congregations. How many Syrians the group will be able to sponsor will depend on how much money is raised.

“We will now explore possible candidates for sponsorship, and once we have found a suitable candidate or candidates, we will begin the process of sponsorship,” Dillenbeck wrote to everyone in an email after the meeting.

The next meeting is on Wednesday, Oct. 21 at Stittsville United Church at 7:00 pm.


5 thoughts on “Group puts plan in place to sponsor Syrian refugees”

  1. I would like to know at what charitable organization that is as local as possible, and as transparent about their efficiency as possible, I can make a donation to. I figure if I donate something like $100 (which is peanuts considering), I’d get back a portion of that on my next tax return. If a good number of people do this too, then we’d contribute possibly 25, 50, 100+k, who knows.

    Also, the government has this weird rule in place, where over a period of something like 4 or 5 years, starting I think a couple of years ago, that in *ONE* of those years you get a bigger tax break. The problem with that is that I already donated money to the Red Cross when that storm hit in the Philippines. So now I’d be getting much less of a tax break. Pressure needs to be applied to the government, to change this, and make the tax return the same as that one bonus year. Plus, at the time the government was matching donors, which doubled the effectiveness of the donations.

    My point aside from organizing to get some Syrians over here, is that the whole money and donation aspect needs working on.

  2. These refugees are not our problem. They should be sent to oil rich, Arab nations. Our government budgets cannot afford to support these people. The Sovereign Wealth Fund of Saudi Arabia is worth $US762 billion.

    1. It is true that the oil rich nations in the region aren’t doing anything. Even their recent pledges didn’t materialize by imposing unreasonable conditions after their pledge.

      Much bigger pressures should be made on them, to play a more influential role. They’re selling oil? Perhaps we’re going to stop buying their oil, and switch to electric and whatnot, despite their efforts to tank the price of oil. It seems that they’re waging an economic war already. So, that warrants a response of some sort I think.

      But despite all that, and given that Europe seems to be saddled with all of this, I do not think it is right to not participate and not be the upstanding citizen of the world that I think we ought to be.

      Perhaps, one day, we’ll need help. And if one thinks that we’re invulnerable and can afford to take a position where we’ll never need anyone, then that person does not grasp the notion of the golden rule. And that rubs off on everything.

    2. Accepting refugees only costs money in the short term. Look at all the Vietnemese people Ottawa took in in the 1970s – they’re now integral and active participants in the community and economy.

      Accepting refugees is an investment into our diversified and culture-rich country. In the long term, we will all be richer for it.

  3. Living as retirees on a fixed income, we are not in a position to donate any amount of money that could effect change or help with the present emergency situation of the Syrian refugees. That being said, I know we could help out by offering up our home as temporary placement until a permanent solution is found within our community (2-4 people). Is this a reasonable effective offer? How else could we help?

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