A First Look

Perhaps you have never considered sponsoring a refugee to resettle in your community; or perhaps you have wanted to bring a displaced family to Canada for a long time now. Whatever your experience, this is the place to take a first look at Canada's Private Sponsorship of Refugees program to see if this is something you and your church could undertake on behalf of another; to put hands and feet to God's call to care for strangers, and to loose the cords of injustice.

canada logoAs Canadians, we have had the privilege as citizens and permanent residents since 1979 to sponsor a family or an individual who has been forced to flee their home to start a new life in Canada.

Refugee sponsorship is a time, financial and relational investment in which sponsors work together as a team to help displaced persons resettle into a local Canadian community. Listening to the stories of those who have sponsored a family in the past confirms the fact that the blessing of sponsorship goes both ways. Lives are expanded, communities are enriched, the perspective of Canadians is broadened as we engage with a new culture, language and history while making new friends.

Granted, it will be a fairly large nutshell, but in terms of what happens first and who does what, this article will provide you with a run-down of the process from initial inquiries to resettlement.

Getting Started

nutshell

If you wonder whether sponsorship is something that your church, or perhaps a group of churches in your community could initiate, the first thing to do is to call a meeting and invite anyone who is interested or has questions to attend. We have several documents that walk a group through the responsibilities of sponsorship, how to establish a core team, different types of sponsorships, and projected cost tables.

If there is enough interest among that first gathering for at least 5 people to commit to being part of a core team for the time of preparation, and the year of resettlement, then you are ready to move forward.

question markSome people in North America have interesting albeit ill-informed ideas about refugees. Once someone hears that we are working on behalf of refugees, it is not uncommon to hear a comment like the ones below. Perhaps you have heard or been asked about some of these same issues. The following are a compilation of common myths regarding refugees from IAFR, RSTP and our own conversations.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada currently offers three different opportunities for Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) or their Constituency Groups (CGs) to sponsor refugees. A person can only be considered a refugee if they are outside of their country of origin — having fled their homeland — to escape persecution, war or severe human rights abuses and are unable to return home.

BVOR Program

The BVOR Program is designed to resettle refugees identified by the UNHCR and submitted to Canadian visa offices abroad. It is only the families or individuals who have been living in limbo for many years, who are often at risk, and for whom resettlement is the only viable durable solution that are referred under this program.