We are pleased to offer an update on our group’s progress and status given recent developments.
First, thanks to the generosity of the Wilkinson/St. David’s community, we have raised $7,000 and continue to work towards our goal of $35,000. If you haven’t already, please make an online donation (www.wilkinson-stdavids.ca). All money collected will be safely held in a dedicated account managed by our Constituent Group (St. David’s Anglican Church) to provide financial support to the family for one year after they arrive.
Second, despite media coverage last week about the Federal Government slowing down the processing of Syrian refugee applications, we remain committed to our cause. Our Sponsorship Agreement Holder, the Anglican United Refugee Alliance (AURA), assures us that, while it may take longer for us to get a match, we will still be assigned a refugee family in need of settlement assistance. We may be waiting until 2017, but we are in this for the long run.
Third, we are also focusing our efforts on advocacy to the Federal Government that Canada needs to continue to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis (see our Resources page for information about how you can advocate too). Two of our group members attended last Wednesday’s invigorating meeting led by former mayor John Sewell at a packed west-end Church. Our members reported back to us that we are not alone in our unwillingness to accept the government’s decision to ‘slow-down’ after reaching their set target of 25,000.
Fourth, we are also looking into how we can provide practical, non-monetary, support to a government-sponsored Syrian refugee family who is already here. Many of these families who are not privately sponsored do not have on-the-ground help to find housing, a doctor, or to register kids in school etc. We will update you further on these efforts soon.
Lastly, we wanted to comment on the Wilkinson school assembly for grades 4, 5 and 6 students last Friday. The approximately 30-minute presentation about the Syrian refugee crisis consisted of watching a short video clip of a 10 year old Syrian girl talking about life in the Domeez refugee camp followed by 25 minutes of Q & A with a young Syrian refugee woman who has been in Canada for about three months. The kids were engaged and their questions were sensitive and curious.
Many asked the young woman about her experience of Canada to date. She told them Canada is unique and that she has never felt so welcomed by another country before. She also told the group about her experience of war in Syria and why she had to leave her native country. She explained she was worried her nieces and nephews would starve to death. She answered one young girl’s question about whether anyone in her family has died during the war. When our speaker said her brother had been killed, the young girl immediately, and sympathetically, responded that she was sorry for her loss. After the assembly, one grade four girl said that she and her friend wanted to do something. Another said that she realized her experience of breaking her leg was nothing in comparison to that of the speaker’s niece who had been shot in the shoulder. Needless to say, the presentation seemed to strike a chord and the kids were thinking about the circumstances of others beyond their own border. We would like to acknowledge the great work of teacher Sophie Barbier for putting this moving assembly together!