Nov. 10, 2015
For Immediate Release
WATERLOO – They are a family of four. The daughter is just two years old, the son seven. Before war broke out in their country of Syria, their father worked as a salesman and their mother was a housekeeper. Today, they are homeless and country-less.
This is one of the Syrian families Wilfrid Laurier University will be sponsoring in immigrating to Canada.
The university has partnered with the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) to sponsor and resettle three Syrian refugee families later this year. Two families will settle in Kitchener-Waterloo and one family will settle in Brantford.
“The Laurier community is characterized by its generosity and care for others,” said Max Blouw, Laurier’s president and vice-chancellor. “It is part of our mission to engage and challenge the world in all its complexity. This is an extraordinary crisis, and we feel we have an obligation to help.”
Laurier will work with local agencies to aid in the resettlement process, with the MCC providing advice and guidance. MCC is a highly regarded organization working in the field of refugee settlement and is also a leader in the areas of emergency food and shelter, education and advocacy with governments on peace and justice issues.
Through a “blended sponsorship” program, Laurier and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) will partner in a cost-sharing arrangement to support the refugee families. The approximate cost of sponsoring one family of two adults and two children is $27,000.
Already, more than 80 donors from the Laurier community have come forward and have donated over $21,000.
More than 70 staff, faculty and students from Laurier’s Brantford and Waterloo campuses have volunteered to provide practical, emotional and psychological support to the families. This support includes arranging the initial housing set-up — including furniture and household items, as well as providing basic necessities and additional settlement assistance including language classes, enrolment in school, finding health-care providers, job search support, etc. Building a long-term community of support is important for the families as they transition to life in Canada.
“Supporting Syrian refugees is a major personal as well as financial commitment on the part of our faculty, staff and students at Laurier. We have made a commitment to these families and we are confident that people will continue to come forward to support these efforts,” said Rob Donelson, vice-president of Development and Alumni Relations, who is chairing the university’s response. “This initiative will not only transform these families’ lives, but also our own.”
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