There is usually 8 - 36 months for sponsors to prepare for a family's arrival once the application has been submitted to Ottawa. Sometimes even more. During these months sponsors will need to complete the required training and screening as well as prepare practically for the newcomers' arrival.
Along with the Core Team, there is usually a wider group of volunteers that are planning to be involved in some degree with settlement support after the family arrives. Anyone who is planning to spend time one-on-one with any family members must take all required training and screening. If someone is planning to relate to the family more casually - generally in group settings when other Core Team members are present - then no training or screening is required. It will be up to Core Team members to ensure all volunteers interact with family members respectfully and navigate any misunderstandings that may arise.
Required training includes watching and discussing a series of webinars facilitated by Webinars" page for current titles and times.. Webinars are updated from time to time, so please refer to the "
Much of the practical preparation that goes into welcoming a former refugee family to their community needs to be done by sponsors pre-arrival. The 72-page AGC Settlement Handbook will be the key resource to ensure sponsors have asked the right questions and are prepared. Chapter titles include:
Core Teams should plan to read through the handbook together in the months prior to arrival, discussing the topics together in light of their specific situation.
Now that the sponsorship is moving forward in an official capacity, this is a good time to send an introductory email or message if you have not already been in contact with the refugee. If you have already connected with them, consider a weekly skype or WhatsApp call. One of the challenges for refugees is losing hope. By making a point to stay connected, you have the opportunity to keep that hope alive, to begin the friendship while you're still on different continents, to be a voice of encouragement as your team keeps abreast of the difficulties they continue to face as they wait for the application to be processed.
As the Core Team meets together to plan and prepare for settlement, part of your preparation responsibility is to take time to learn about the refugee(s) country of origin and culture in preparation for their arrival. Choose the best resource for your team, and then review the cultural basics presented there. You could read through a segment when you meet together, and then discuss any questions or issues that are raised, or one person could present to the team.
Whatever means you choose, your SAH will ask the Team Lead to confirm the sponsorship group has done some cultural sensitivity training prior to the refugee's arrival.
Culture Crossing Guide covers basics of greetings, communication style, personal space, eye contact, views of time, gestures, gender roles and taboos for a number of different cultures.
EveryCulture.com is another resource that may be good for your group.
If you find other helpful links or resources, please contact us. We will add those links that may be helpful for others too.
Visa office interviews are conducted to assess the refugee's eligibility for resettlement to Canada as a permanent resident and also assess his or her admissibility to enter Canada.
As a Core Team, it is important to help them prepare for the interview. Read over the fact sheet provided by so you are aware of the process and what will be required. Once the refugee has received an interview date, they will be much better prepared if you have walked them through the process, explained their rights and responsibilities and given them a mock interview. Many refugees have been victims of abuse by authorities. Helping them understand and prepare for this interview will empower them to tell their own story honestly and with the confidence of knowing that they are safe.