"Private sponsorship is considered a best practice within international immigration and refugee circles in part because of its track record in Canada. Refugees, private sponsors, and Canada as a whole have benefited immensely from the practice. Privately sponsored refugees have a built-in support network embedded in the local community, made up of people who are socially and economically established. As a result, they can experience a sense of belonging from the moment they arrive. What’s more, program evaluations show that privately sponsored refugees are more likely to enter the Canadian job market sooner and at higher income levels than those who enter as refugees outside of the PSR program.”
The above quote is from "Crowdsourcing Refugee Resettlement", an article published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review (Winter 2018) by Ratna Omidvar, an independent senator for the Province of Ontario, and Mustafa Alio, cofounder of Refugee Career Jumpstart Project. The article can be found here: https://ssir.org/articles/entry/crowdsourcing_refugee_resettlement
A bit of History: Roncesvalles Refugee Relief (RRR) is a group of friends and neighbours in the Roncesvalles neighbourhood of Toronto who came together in late 2015 to sponsor one refugee family. Our fundraising efforts were so successful that we raised enough money to sponsor two families. One family – mom, dad and two sweet little girls aged 6 and 4 years - arrived in Toronto from Jordan in July 2018. Our second family arrived just over two months later. They had experienced a heart-breaking tragedy a year earlier when the father died suddenly of a heart condition. We were so happy to welcome mom, daughter and two teenage sons in September 2018.
RRR guided the families through the process of applying for Permanent Residency, obtaining their SINs, opening a bank account and learning how to get around on transit. The money we raised allowed us to cover all of the families' expenses during their first year in Toronto. These expenses included rent, food, clothing, furniture, transportation, language training and other settlement costs. RRR members assisted with budgeting, resumes, training programs and job searches. We are thrilled that both families have “graduated” after their first year and have been successful in settling into the Canadian way of life. Our first family has welcomed a new addition to the fold, a beautiful little girl who was born in May 2019. Dad is employed, mom is taking language lessons and the two young daughters are thriving at school. Our second family has been just as successful in integrating into Canadian life. Mom is taking English language lessons, the daughter is finishing her first year of university, the eldest son is enrolled in community college and the youngest son will attend community college in Fall 2020.
We commenced a fund raising effort in early 2017 to sponsor a third family. This time we decided to bring a multi-generational (13 member) Syrian family, originally from Aleppo, to Canada. A baby boy joined the eldest son’s family in January 2020. Sadly, the patriarch of the family died of COVID-19 in December 2020. Four of the family members are living in Turkey and are enrolled in university (one is completing his PhD, two sibs are completing their Master’s degrees and one is studying Medicine). Their attendance at university is financed through the UN. Three family members are still in Saudi Arabia and six family members (eldest son, his wife and their four children) are living in UAE. COVID-19 has delayed the private sponsorship of refugees to Canada. We are hopeful that we will meet some of these people in 2021 or 2022. While that may seem in the distant future, the fact is that private sponsorship can take anywhere from two to four years. Eventually these highly educated and motivated young people will be able to establish their lives here in Canada. How we did it:
In the beginning, back in 2015, we partnered with Bloor Street United Church which generously guided us through the private sponsorship process. We also partnered with CultureLink, a not-for-profit organization established in our neighbourhood over 25 years ago. CultureLink provides settlement services to newcomers including information and referrals in a variety of areas such as healthcare, legal, employment, education and language training.
How you can help:
Roncesvalles Refugee Relief is a volunteer led and run organization. Every penny we raise goes directly to sponsoring and supporting refugees, other than a small amount for fundraising. We rely upon the kindness of friends, and strangers, to help meet our fundraising goals. You can help us help others by donating to our cause. And you will receive a charitable tax receipt for your generosity.
To donate by cheque, make your cheque payable to: CultureLink Settlement and Community Services Please write 'Roncesvalles Refugee Relief' in the memo line. Make sure to provide your name and address so that you will receive your charitable tax receipt.
Cheques should be mailed to: Joanne Green Co-Chair, Roncesvalles Refugee Relief 18 Hewitt Avenue Toronto, ON M6R 1Y3
To donate using stocks, please complete the PDF document.
Your support is crucial to help us bring this refugee family to Canada. Please donate! By doing so, you will be making our neighbourhood and community a stronger, richer, and more meaningful place for us all to live.
We're excited and want to provide our friends, neighbours, and supporters with the opportunity to participate (and have a lot of fun too!) Our donor page is up and running and people are contributing. Thank you! Any contribution you can make, by donating will be very much appreciated.