Updates

The Huffington Post - Valerie Taylor's usual commute home sent her on an unexpected detour powered by a collective act of kindness.

Taylor, a Toronto-based psychiatrist, was commuting out of the city on GO Transit during rush hour when she was met a family of seven who had just arrived from Syria four months ago, she writes in a now-viral Facebook post published Wednesday.

The oldest child, an 11-year-old was the only one who could speak English, so he was looking for help finding their way to travel to family outside of Toronto.

"They had two baby strollers and three other kids and heavy bags so I helped them get to the train," Taylor writes. "But other random strangers picked up strollers and bags to help them up the stairs as well."

Taylor wrote that everyone around her sprang into action. She passed her stop to help with the situation, another passenger called a friend who spoke Arabic to help translate, and others pooled money to help cover the family's ticket costs.

"... That's what we do in Canada. We help," the doctor said on Facebook.

Posted: 07/26/2016 - 16:30

Hamilton The Spectator - On Saturday, at a parched Woodlands Park on Barton (isn't everything aching for water these days?), some new Hamiltonians shone proudly under the stately shadows of the old city, represented by the Westinghouse building on one corner and the handsome old Livingston United Church on the other.

The Newcomers, a group of Syrian refugees in Canada mere months, narrowly edged The Strikers, a spirited team of men and women representing Hamilton Police Services, to win the fourth Hamilton Community Cup.

The score was 1-0, but the victory was huge for the cause of integration and togetherness in diversity.

"It was a long day, everyone gave their all and they (the Syrians) really deserve it," said the goalie for the police team.

"It (the Community Cup) is an opportunity to welcome new Hamiltonians and to celebrate the ways in which our multicultural community is enriched by many voices," said Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath, who co-chairs the event with Lyndon George.

"It's so grassroots. It's a great way for newcomers to make connections."

Posted: 07/26/2016 - 15:57

Niagara This Week - Efforts to resettle families from war-torn Syria in Niagara got a big boost on July 21, with Regional Chair Alan Caslin presenting $50,000 to two community agencies helping to bring people from that far-off land to a new life in Canada.

The Syrian refugee resettlement committees at St. Ann Parish in Pelham and the Armenian Community Centre in St. Catharines each received $25,000.

The money was raised after Caslin got the support of regional council to match funds donated by Niagara residents of up to $25,000. Those residents collectively donated $25,000 and more in short order.

Moses Moini, refugee program co-ordinator for MCC in Niagara, said late last year that the donations demonstrate the benevolence of Niagara residents when there are crises.

“The outpouring of generosity is just overwhelming,” he said.

Posted: 07/26/2016 - 15:44

Are you based in Ontario, sponsoring a refugee through the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program, and need help completing the application forms?

RSTP Ontario is hosting a free application forms clinic for Ontario based sponsors on Monday July 25th 2016 from 6pm to 8pm 

The clinic will cover: what forms need to be completed; how to complete specific forms; recent changes in procedure; and, best practices to follow when completing the forms. The RSTP Ontario team will also be available to review sponsorship application forms during the clinic.

The clinic will be held at the following address:

Date: July 25, 2016
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Location: Catholic Crosscultural Services,
3660 Hurontario St. 7th floor,
Mississauga, ON  L5B 3C4

To confirm your attendance, please email: ontariosponsors@rstp.ca.

Attendees are kindly requested to bring printed copies of their sponsorship application forms if they would like them reviewed.

Posted: 07/25/2016 - 09:45

The Star Toronto - A year after its launch, the university’s refugee resettlement effort raised $4.5 million, formed 102 sponsorship groups and supported 150 refugee families.

When Wendy Cukier first challenged her colleagues and students at Ryerson University a year ago to step up and help sponsor Syrian refugees to Canada, her goal was modest: forming 10 sponsorship teams to bring in 10 families.

Little did the Ryerson vice-president of research and innovation expect the challenge would get so much traction, not just from her local community but also from OCAD University, the University of Toronto, York University, and communities across Canada.

This week, on the first anniversary of the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge, Cukier, the project’s founder, announced the final tallies: $4.5 million raised, 102 teams formed, 150 families sponsored, 23 families or 125 people arrived and 1,000 volunteers recruited.

“It’s really tremendously inspiring to see the work of the community. This is incredibly exciting,” said Cukier, who will be leaving Ryerson to be president and vice-chancellor of Brock University in September.

Posted: 07/22/2016 - 15:26

National Post Sundridge Ontario - The Alkurdi sisters are Syrian. They came to Canada in mid-February with their parents, Hisham and Bareaa, as privately sponsored refugees. On their second day in the country, they built a snowman. Now it is July and they are at an all-girls camp about three hours north of Toronto.

For many Canadians, camp is a rite of passage, a place where city kids escape the concrete to paddle, sail, catch frogs, sleep beneath the stars, sing songs around a campfire and form lifelong friendships. Camp, for the Alkurdis, held a different connotation, until recently. The only camps that they knew of were overflowing with Syrian refugees and known as places to get out of and not to happily go to for a week.

“Our special project this summer is to welcome Syrian newcomers, to have them come and enjoy this beautiful outdoor experience beside the lake and to share our activities — and for us to experience them and for them to experience us,” Palm says.

Posted: 07/22/2016 - 15:12

Syrian Family Links Initiative was launched in January 2016 to respond to the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis.

The program aims at matching Syrian refugee families residing in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan with Canadian private sponsors.

The webinar is intended to provide an overview of the program and the profiles of the families registered with us (only non-identifying information would be provided).

Please note that the facilitator will not be able to answer case specific enquiries during the webinar.

Date: Friday July 29, 2016
Time: 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. EDT

To register please please click here

Posted: 07/21/2016 - 10:32

This workshop which will be conducted by Toronto Refugee Sponsorship Support Initiative (Toronto RSS) is intended for the private sponsors of refugees and will explore various themes including:

  • Managing expectations: What are sponsors’ and refugees’ expectations of each other, and how can expectations be managed to avoid potential conflict?
  • Code of ethics for private sponsoring groups: What are some ethical practices that private sponsors may wish to consider?
  • Power imbalance: How do power imbalances affect the relationship between sponsors and refugees, and how can they be minimized?

There will be a total of 3 workshops conducted at 3 different locations across Toronto but all these workshops will deliver the same content.  As such, private sponsors need to register for and attend one of the workshops only.

Date: Tuesday July 26, 2016 
Time: 5:45 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. EDT
Where: Runnymede Library, Program Room, 2178 Bloor Street West, Toronto

To register please click here

For more information contact Nadine Nasir.
Phone: 416-290-1700, ext. 404 or
E-mail: torontorss@rstp.ca

Posted: 07/21/2016 - 10:04

CBC News Manitoba - People around the world come together to put on jerseys and cheer for their favourite teams but in Winnipeg a soccer camp used the love of sport to help refugee children feel at home.

The sounds of laughter, shoes hitting the ground, and soccer balls flying into the back of the net filled the University of Winnipeg's Axworthy Health and RecPlex on Saturday as about 100 kids, mostly from Syria, took part in a soccer camp.

"Soccer is the number one sport in Syria and, just like hockey in Canada, every kid looks up to soccer players, they want to be like them, they want to be famous, they feel good playing soccer," said Omar Rahimi, founder of Liberty Football Club Soccer Academy.

"And that's the only thing that makes them feel good right now."

Posted: 07/19/2016 - 14:47

Calgary Metro - Assma Yassin had one dream: to meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. And on Saturday, her dream finally came true.

The 17-year-old Syrian refugee, who arrived on the plane from Lebanon carrying a portrait of her hero, met him at Calgary Centre MP Kent Herh’s pancake breakfast.

The meeting has been a long time coming. Metro first reported on Yassin’s story back in March, explaining how the young artist had painted a portrait of Trudeau with the hopes of meeting him and thanking him for allowing Syrian refugees to find a new home in Canada.

And Friday she narrowly missed meeting the PM at the Genesis Centre pancake breakfast, while her sister was luckier and posed for a selfie with him.

Now, Yassin said she can’t believe it finally happened.

“I waited for so long and now I have met Justin and thanked him for the people of Syria,” she said. 

Posted: 07/19/2016 - 14:33

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