HAT Refugee Project
Update September 2019
In Refugee Project Part 1, we lent our support to the Friends of Music and Art who helped to settle a family of 3 in Toronto (see below). In Refugee Project Part 2, we were able to contribute the remaining $4000.00 to an effort led by the non-theistic community, The West Hill United Church, and supported by Humanist Canada, to bring an endangered atheist Bangladeshi blogger and his family to Toronto. On June 7th, 2019, HAT’s four year old project hit a major milestone when our family landed at Pearson International Airport.
Please see below a report from Project Leader Mike Garvey that tells the whole story. I know you will join the HAT Steering Committee in thanking all our donors who gave generously to make this huge impact in the lives of these families possible and in thanking the project leaders for bringing the vision of the donors to life with their real world actions.
(For security reasons, names have been withheld)
In November of 2016 the West Hill United Church Board of Directors approved the proposal for the Church to initiate a Refugee Application on behalf of The Family. The required application forms were submitted through the United Church of Canada to the Canadian Government in April 2017 and we were pleased to receive the “G” number in late May. (“G” Number signifies that the application has been approved for processing)
And then the long wait until June 7, 2019 – the date that we went to the Toronto Airport to greet and welcome our couple and their two boys to Canada.
Much work was done to in June to locate a home and move them from their temporary residence. Their home is located very close to the school that the boys will attend in September and also close to a park, a recreation center and a grocery store. The boys are taking swim lessons and enjoy playing frisbee in the park. Mom is baking some wonderful breads and cakes – as proven by my weight gain. Dad has a new computer and is working on his writings and preparing a resume.
The family is settling into their new life and relieved to be rid of the life of fear as Father was on a “kill list”.
The Canadian Government has agencies and facilities to help new Canadians integrate into society, assist with a job search and provide invaluable support.
We wish to thank you so much so your support for The Family. West Hill United Church was not in a position to provide the required money to support the family for the first twelve months – which is our obligation and commitment. Your generous financial contributions have made this possible; when the board reviewed the proposal in November of 2016 their support was based on the financial pledges that you had given. The money that you have provided is in our “Refugee Account” from which we transfer money for their expenses.
A sincere and heartfelt THANK YOU for your good thoughts and financial support.
West Hill United Church Refugee Committee
Update July 2017
Almost two years after HAT initiated its refugee sponsorship project, the family we are helping arrived in Toronto in late July. Through the Friends of Music and Art, the larger group with which we partnered, HAT members of offered clothing and furnishing as well as money. The family, a professional couple with a 2-year-old child, is reportedly eager to settle in, and has spent their first week getting to know the city better. They are due to move into their apartment on September 1, and we hope to meet them in person soon afterward.
Update; April 2017
On April 1st we heard from Martin, our contact with Friends of Music and Art, that the family we were expecting to sponsor has given up on Canada, and made alternate plans. They will be settling in Australia.
Ours is not the only sponsorship group that has been frustrated by bureaucratic delays. We wish the family well in their new home, and are happy that they have found an arrangement. We are still hoping to be able to help out. FoMA is going to put in another application. It means that we are farther back than when we were a year ago -- but we should, in time, be getting a family. The money that HAT raised to support the family will be put to its intended use, and our volunteer efforts will in time be needed. Unfortunately, we cannot yet say when.
Humanist Association of Toronto; Syrian Refugee Update; January 2017
It is New Years Day, a time when it is in fashion to look back, look ahead, and find some way to express hope for a better future coming. Although this year has ended on a general tone of discouragement and worry, there is a family for whom we expect 2017 will begin on a brighter note. The Syrian refugee family that HAT members are helping to sponsor is now expected to arrive some time in January or February. This is not a firm date; the immigration bureaucracy being what it is, forecast arrival dates have been set back before for many sponsorship families. However, all the recognized hurdles have been cleared, and our partners in Friends of Music and Art have begun looking for an apartment.
If you are not already signed up, and would like to help, there are forms (online and printable) at https://humanisttoronto.squarespace.com/syrian-refugee-project/ . Help could include financial contributions, donation of used clothing or furnishings, or time to spend with the family, helping them to navigate a new culture and an unfamiliar society.
On a personal note, I saw a friend at a New Years party whom I had first met a year ago. At that time, we talked at length about our respective sponsorship groups and our hopes for what we could do. Her group's family arrived in September, so when I saw her again this year she was full of stories. She reminded me how much more meaningful our efforts to help feel when the recipients of our help get faces. On that note, I am looking forward to our refugee family, still faceless to us although very human to each other, acquiring faces for us too as we get a chance to work with them personally.
Humanist Association Of Toronto: Syrian Refugees Update December 2016.
As the holiday season approaches, we at HAT find ourselves again waiting for the sponsored Syrian Refugee family we raised money for to arrive to Canada.
A very serious backlog of Refugees await entry into Canada. It is apparent that the ongoing issues of the governments involved with this process are to blame. Turkey has had its challenges this year, with much political unrest. This has played a major contribution to the delays we are seeing.
As Canadians and Humanists, we must practice patience in this matter as this slow due process takes place. It can take years for a Refugee to enter Canada. This is an unsettling amount of time for a person in a crisis situation to wait in order to leave their country of origin.
Refugees seek asylum for a number of reasons, and all Refugees have been placed in queue. The reason for a person to seek Refugee status is to prevent persecution.
The reason of persecution is connected to one of five things: your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or your political opinion. As well female circumcision is a reason.
The Canadian Government's stance is as follows:
"We are continuing to work with the government of Turkey to obtain exit permits as quickly as possible and are continuing to monitor the situation,'' said Sonia Lesage, a spokesperson for the Immigration Department. (The Canadian Press).
Statistics are an estimated 549 Syrian refugees in Turkey who have been approved to come to Canada, but haven’t been cleared to travel, and a further 3,815 applications from that country are in progress.
Our sponsorship group, The Friends Of Music And Art, has met with MP Bill Monreau to look into our Syrian Refugee case earlier this year. According to Marten Van De Ven our family has gone through all necessary steps to come to Canada, but are in a back log of cases. As well earlier this year the Canadian Government ended its priority selecting of Refugees from Syria.
Moses Klein attended a recent Pot-Luck this summer to meet members of The Friends Of Music And Art and a family member of our sponsor family.
HAT is on standby to begin putting our donated funds into effect by means of purchasing extras when the needs arrive.
Stephen Perin, Humanist Clergyman.
HAT Steering Committee Member.
HAT'S REFUGEE SPONSORSHIP GROUP
Stephen Perin and Moses Klein
Recently HAT's refugee sponsorship group, The Friends of Music and Art, has met with MP Bill Morneau to look into our Syrian Refugee case. Martin van de Ven, our contact in FoMA, reports that our family has gone through all necessary steps to come to Canada, but are caught in a backlog of cases. As well earlier this year the Canadian Government ended its priority selecting of refugees from Syria.
Securing exit permits for Syrians in Turkey has been a difficult process, but even longer wait times are expected. Bureaucratic delays in the resettlement of Syrian refugees from Turkey to Canada are likely to increase after recent political unrest. Recently the Turkish army attempted to take over the country and its processes. This is holding up the Liberal Government’s plans from last fall to resettle thousands of people from Turkey. This effort is part of their landmark program to bring 25,000 Syrians to Canada in a matter of months. The latest statistics are an estimated 549 Syrian refugees in Turkey who have been approved to come to Canada, but haven’t been cleared to travel, and a further 3,815 applications from that country are in progress. So, we are still waiting, without a clear idea how long HAT will be on standby to begin putting our donated funds to use when our family gets here.
One of us (Moses) attended a potluck this summer to meet members of The Friends Of Music And Art, as well as the sister and niece of our family's father, both of whom are already living in Toronto.
In some respects, our family will have an easier time integrating than many refugees: they speak good English, and have a good educational background.
However, meeting R. reminded me that even highly educated newcomers have a hard time making a living.
Syrian Refugee Project Update
April 8th 2016
From Stephen Perin and Moses Klein:
The Friends of Music and Arts Steering committee has welcomed HAT's offer of contribution to Syrian Refugee sponsorship. The Friends of Music and Art are a group of 15 Toronto artists whom are sponsoring a family of 5 to Canada. They have been assigned a refugee case number, and are an organized group.
HAT has collected over 6 thousand dollars in donations towards this effort. Our money has been designated as a charitable fund which will be used to buy extra needed things and unforeseen costs which will come up as the settle effort comes to fruition. Examples of this are beds, winter jackets, school supplies and other personal needs. HAT members have also offered to help with settlement assistance once the family arrives.
An arranged meeting with a lawyer is set to finalize The Friends of Music and Arts government approval. Two HAT steering committee members, Stephen Perin and Moses Klein, have established a liaison with the group, through which we will coordinate HAT's contributions to the effort. The Friends of Music and Art have started a Facebook page to post news and to stay in touch with their now larger group of contributors. All contributions will be directed there such as clothes and other materials.
Moses and I will remain in touch with The Friends of Music and Arts as the family settles, and we will be fulfilling donation help requests as they come in.
There is currently a 3-8 month waiting time with new refugee processing rules handed down by the government. Syria is no longer being prioritized and they must wait in queue with all worldwide refugees.
We are still soliciting help for the project, in two important ways.
Financial assistance: Sponsoring organizations need to raise the equivalent of one year of welfare before the sponsorship can proceed. For a family of 5, that amount is officially $29,500, but in an expensive city such as Toronto the actual costs could be much higher.
Settlement assistance: After our refugee family has arrived, they may still need assistance in other forms. Can you volunteer to help find an apartment, take them on errands, introduce them to local culture, etc.? Would you have old clothes or furniture to donate? This is in the future, but we would like to compile a list of people to call on.
Contact Moses Klein at HATRefugeeProject@gmail.com.
For donations: Please fill in this Google Form:
Or, please download this Word document form, and complete the form and mail to the address provided.
- Stephen Perin and Moses Klein