OLPH To Welcome REFUGEES
This new Section "Refugee Resettlement"was started in late November 2015. Updates will be posted here as appropriate. The latest updates will be at the top of the Section.
-------------------Jan. 18, 2017 - Refugee Update - brother-sister family arriving Jan. 31, 2017 (tentatively)
Good news after a long wait for them and for us!
We have learned that our family of two has been cleared to travel from Amman, Jordan, to Toronto this month. The simple iPhone message from Fadi belied the years of anxiety he and his sister (Iraqi Christians) have faced -- first fleeing ISIS from their home in Iraq, then dealing with two years of uncertain days in Amman. As he put it stoically "I just received a call from the embassy that our travel to Canada will be on January 31 and they'll tell us the details of the flight later. See you soon."
Appropriately, we received Fadi's email this past Sunday, the Church's "World Day of Migrants and Refugees".
Larry Pick, Co-chair of OLPH Resettlement Group (RG) Committee
March 7, 2016 - Refugee Update
Progress has been very slow in the advancement of our parish's sponsorship of two refugee families in Amman. Their status remains unchanged since they were registered with Immigration Canada last September -- still awaiting interviews. Our efforts with MP Chrystia Freeland's office so far have been unavailing, but we continue to seek her intervention.
Evidently the push to land Syrian refugees on the government's February deadline has set back the timetable for Iraqi families waiting in Amman. ISIS has not respected the border between Iraq and Syria, and our refugee families are victims of the same conflict. Meanwhile, Shelley Zucchi has continued to be in contact with our two families, trying to reassure them of our continued efforts to secure their passage to Canada. They look forward to arriving in Canada.
OLPH Co-chair Resettlement Group (RG) Committee
Jan. 26, 2016 Update - Email to RG Volunteers from Volunteer Coordinators
Hello OLPH Resettlement Group volunteers,
Our communications coordinator tells us that she had a very pleasant conversation with the brother of our brother-sister family. They are so grateful we have taken them on and look so forward to eventually arriving in Canada. They, as do the family with two kids, continue to wait for a date for their embassy interview.
Thank you for your patience. Please keep your enthusiasm and energy bottled up for when big changes occur. I realize that this can be a disheartening process, receiving not much news from us in the relative scheme of things. Please know that your contribution and future contributions as a part of this team are very valuable and appreciated.
One task for this week please:
We continue to be committed to informing you when anything shifts and again, thanks for being a part of the team!
Mia Toth and Jaime McGrath
Jan. 11, 2016 Update - Email to RG Volunteers from Volunteer Coordinators
Belated Happy New Year - with best wishes for a fruitful year for our expectant Refugees
Our communications team informs us that we have had communications with both refugee families informing them about a website that would help them prepare for their eventual interviews with the Canadian Embassy in Amman. Our Resettlement Group (RG) committee co-chair sent each family a Christmas card from our parish. The families and the RG committee also exchanged Christmas and New Year's emails (see below) The families continue to be quite motivated towards coming to Toronto. They seem to be trying to do their best under trying circumstances. We continue to be caught up in a bit of a waiting game, looking to hear that they have been notified of their Embassy interviews and medical examinations appointments.
(From the family of four)
Thank you on the work you are doing you and your team the church for our arrival to Canada and we are honored meeting and identify you and we are grateful to reaching out with us and raise our morale and let us know all the developments of things we will inform you when our knowledge of any connection (from the Canadian Embassy in Amman), the Lord bless you and your families
(From the brother and sister)
My sister and I congratulate the coming of New Year's Day 2016 and we wish you health and peace in the world....
Furthermore, through Barb Casselman’s connections, we got the OLPH effort on the agenda of MP Chrystia Freeland’s town hall on refugees, attended by about 150 people at the Miles Nadal JCC on Dec. 22 (Chrystia is our local MP and also the Minister of Internantional Trade). We asked on behalf of one of our families if Iraqi refugees were taking a back seat to Syrians and noted how long our families had been waiting in Amman. Asif Virani, the Parliamentary Secretary to immigration minister McCallum took the details of two families and his office is now looking into their cases. Both families received their “G” number in September and have been in Amman for more than a year.
Both seem to be in relatively good spirits from their exchanges with RG Committe member Shelley Zucchi. They both know that we are working on their behalf and, along with Christmas and New Year’s greetings, have sent their thanks. The brother in our family of two speaks relatively good English and they have a cousin in Bramptoin who has been in touch with them and Shelley. The family of four has recently relocated out of the church basement where they have been living to an apartment.
What can you do? First off, PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU HAVE FILLED OUT THE SURVEY AS THE INFORMATION GATHERED WILL BE USED AT OUR NEXT COMMITTEE MEETING. If you have not yet filled out this quick survey, please do so at the link below. If you have, Thank you!
Next, it would be good if we all attended the ORAT workshops, here are the dates, times and locations of the ones in the near future. If you would like to attend one of these workshops, please email me back as to which one and I will organize it with ORAT directly. Every workshop seems to include a little different information based on the questions asked and this exercise has proven useful to all who have attended thus far.
Monday, January 18th 2016. 3:00pm to 5:30pm at St. Clements's Parish
Wednesday, January 20th 2016. 7:00pm to 9:00pm at Sisters of St. Joseph Parish.
Tuesday, January 26th 2016 6pm to 9pm at Annunciation Parish
Finally, below is the link to the google document for donations of items such as furniture that is kindly being managed by Rob McGrath. If you have anything to add to our list of what is committed to either of the families once they arrive, simply click on this link and add your items and name to this list so that we may keep track. Also, as some of you have inquired, anyone is welcome to add to this list so you are welcome to share this link to those in and out of our parish.
We will continue to keep you informed as to the progress of our families in Amman. Thank you again for your patience and rest assured when things start moving, your help will be intrinsic to the success of these resettlements. In the meantime, thank you for your dedication,
Mia Toth and Jaime McGrath
Your Resettlement Group (RG) Volunteer Co-ordinators
Dec. 14/15 Update - Email to Volunteers from Volunteer Coordinators
Hello OLPH Resettlement Program Volunteers,
Thank you to all of you who were able to attend our volunteer information session on December 9th. It was a pleasure to put faces to names and to share an evening as a committed, enthusiastic group.
For those of you who were unable to attend, here is a brief run down of what you missed:
TheResettlement Group (RG)Committee was introduced:
Co-chairs:Larry Pick and Linda Tyndall (Linda is also treasurer)
Communications: Bob Lewis and Shelley Zucchi
Paperwork: Tom Coyle, Diane Schunk and Josephine Accarrino
Website: Roy Sakaguchi
Volunteer Coordinators: Mia Toth and Jaime McGrath
Secretary: Marie Millien
Education: Jina Olberg
Furnishings etc: Robert McGrath
Housing: Henry Miller
Afterward, the volunteers introduced themselves. We have a wide range of specialists and people have very different areas of interest. We are convinced there will be something for everyone to contribute and are so happy to have such a great group. We were then treated to a presentation byBrian Dwyerfrom St Brigid's. He talked to us about their church group's experience resettling an Iraqi family. He was full of helpful anecdotes and inspiration and luckily has said we can speak to him anytime if we need advice! It was wonderful to hear of an experience that went full circle and ended up very positively for all involved.
We also did a bit of housekeeping:Have you submitted your orat paperwork?If not, please cntact Jaime or Mia below. Please print it up and bring it to Alison at church so that it can be on file.Have you completed your survey?If so, thank you. If not, please take a minute to complete it as it will help us a lot. If you need us to send it again, just let us know!
We are in our "meantime" right now, a sort of holding pattern until we hear more about our estimated timeline for our families' arrivals. Our family of 4 have received their "G number" which means they are in line for their embassy interview. Our family of 2 is still waiting for this piece of the puzzle.
So for now, we wait. There are a few things you can do to help right now. If you know of anyone who can provide storage, this is the one thing we are lacking, please let us know. If you have any connections regarding affordable housing, again, please share with the group!!
We will send another email next week before we take a bit of a Christmas break until the new year.
Please email us if you have any comments, questions or feedback.
Your Resettlement Group Volunteer Coordinators
Google doc - items available for refugee families
Robert McGrath has just created this Google doc so that donors can see what is needed for the two families and mark down what they can give. If you have things you want to give, would you please try inputting the items.
This is a dynamic file so others can see what has been donated (to avoid duplication).
Dec. 9, 2015 Update from Refugee Resettlement Group(following the Dec. 9, 2015 meeting at OLPH)
The OLPH Refugee Resettlement Group welcomes your participation and ideas about the following two areas at the moment:
Background Info(this was posted in late November 2015)
- Project Hope:in response to the global humanitarian crisis, Cardinal Thomas Collins launched this Project Hope, a special emergency appeal on Sept. 8, 2015. Briefly, the100-daycampaign will have a target of$3Mand a goal to settle100 refugee familieswith GTA. This will also require100 volunteer committeesto assist with settlement services (including OLPH's - see below). More info at -
- ORAT - Office for Refugees: ORATwas estabblished in 2009, becoming one of the largest private sponsors of refugees in Canada. To date, ORAT has initiated the settlement of 2519 refugees to this region.More info at - https://www.archtoronto.org/projecthope/Pages/About-ORAT.aspx
OLPH Efforts for Refugee Settlement
Two very happy families in Amman, Jordan, are awaiting final documentation before flying to Toronto for settlement in our parish. Allvolunteersare invited to come to an information session and planning meeting:Wednesday, Dec. 9, 7:30 pm, in the Parish Hall. If you have not signed up to help, please feel free to attend the meeting. Everyone is welcome.
We have no timeline yet. But we need to be prepared in case approvals of official papers and health and security checks happen sooner, rather than later. Canadian officials will be interviewing applicants next week in Amman.
Our immediate needs are:
- Please store anyclothing, household goods or toys that you could provide later when we have secured housing for the new arrivals.
- Any ideas you have about volunteers whospeak Arabicand could help with translation/interpretation during the settlement process. We are committed to helping them obtain documentation (health care, etc), employment and an understanding of Canadian society in their first days here.
About the families:
Both families are Christian who have fled terrorist threats in their native Iraq (Mosul and Baghdad). One family consists of a father,45, his wife, 35, a daughter, eight and a son, two. The other is a brother, 36, and a sister 35.They are currently living in Amman under auspices of UNHCR, the Refugee Agency.
We have been in regular communication with both families, with the help of English-speaking family members here and in Jordan. We have encouraged them to work on their limited English. They are all grateful for our support and looking forward to a new, secure life in what one of them called, “Great Canada.” As he wrote: “We really appreciate your efforts. And we promise you to do our best as soon as we reach Canada.”
Larry Pick & Linda Tyndall
Co-Chairs, OLPH Refugee Settlement Group