Potential refugee sponsors have a month to use new fund

CBC News - Private donors helping with financial commitment to sponsor up to 1,000 refugees

The administrators of a private fund to help sponsor 1,000 refugees to come to Canada this yearare encouraging people to organize in the next month to take advantage of the money.

About 80 people attended an information session at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Ottawa to learn more about what they would need to do to help people resettle in Canada.

Stephane Telka said a group of friends were talking about forming a sponsorship group and having access to financial support made a big difference.

"It was a game changer," he said.

"I'm not sure if we would've had the time and the energy and the resources to do the fundraising."

The fund was created by the University of Ottawa Refugee Hub, Jewish Family Services Ottawa, an anonymous Canadian donor and the Shapiro Foundation, an American charity.

The refugees would be identified and screened by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) and the money will fully cover the financial commitment of sponsorship groups. 

'Why not help?'

However, sponsorship is a serious time commitment — nearly around the clock during the first few months, according to speakers at Thursday's event, including finding housing, schooling and responding to various emergencies.

"They're not just coming to volunteer a bit of their time to support a family," said Kailee Brennan, outreach coordinator for the hub.

"They're going to welcome that family, they're going to prepare their home with them together, they're going to show them how to ride a bus, where to buy groceries, how to open a bank account, get a health card and register for school."

Deadline September 17, 2018

Potential sponsors have until Sept. 17 to get organized because that's the government's deadline for approving blended visas for this year. 

Groups who had sponsored refugees before also attended the meeting, as well as representatives of local churches who are trying to organize within their congregations.