We are not waiting any longer for the Ali’s! In fact life has been too busy to update any webpage, but here we are. The Ali family arrived just before Christmas to a very happy crew of folks ready and waiting to greet them and help them adjust to their new lives here in Canada. They arrived at 2am on December 16th after a snowstorm in Toronto delayed their flights about 4 hours… We had someone donate an apartment to them for a month and a half while they waited for their permanent housing, we had people bringing over food, clothing, warm jackets and toys for the kids. As a group we became a mini moving company; “Little people, big muscles” should have been our names! The first month was overwhelming in a lot of ways for everyone. After the Ali’s moved into their permanent housing, and the kids and parents got enrolled in school, life truly began for them here and our work as a settlement group also began. More to come!
Photo is the Ali kids and one of their cousins in the middle on a couch that we were moving! From left to right; Farah, Marah, Ibrahim (their cousin), Mohammad and Omar.
We have been in a bit of a lull the past few months as we have been waiting for the family to arrive. The letter at the bottom of this entry explains the situation better, but suffice it to say, we have been a bit frustrated with the situation.
The letter is from our SAH (Sponsorship Agreement Holder – The Anglican Diocese of BC) written to Minister John McCallum regarding the situation we are in at the moment. Even though we are doing all we can to bring the “our family” here, it is mostly out of our hands, but with more pressure like this, things may be dealt with sooner. I can only hope so. Our constituent group as well as others in Victoria will write a similar letter to the Minister to support this one.In regards to our housing, I feel the best option for us right now is to hang onto our apartment. As much as it pains me to be paying rent every month and letting precious resources that have been generously donated to us melt away with an empty apartment, I feel it would be very difficult finding housing as good as what we have right now. It was no fault of our own. The family were scheduled to arrive at the end of January, so we did our due diligence along with many other groups in Victoria, and we secured them housing. The difficulty is, we could get a call from them tomorrow saying they will arrive in a week. We don’t know. If we haven’t heard or seen any movement in the following month, I feel that we should revisit it this.
On the upside of things, after about an hour of us trying to figure out how to call Jordan, we did talk to the Mr. Ali himself through our interpreter Adam Yaghi on Friday evening. Myself, Elizabeth Chatfield, Bonnie Stacey, Rebecca Siebert from the Diocese and my son Lochlan were present. We all got to introduce ourselves in very basic Arabic. It was difficult to know what was being said – he did tell us the last contact they had from the government was on Feb 7th and that they have been waiting ever since. He also confirmed that the children are indeed quadruplets and are healthy right now. At one point in the conversation he had asked us if they were coming to Canada, and we told him we were ready for them, that we aren’t the government, we are a group of families who want to help other families, and as far as we knew, they are coming to Canada, it’s just a matter of time. To this he replied “I am so happy! I am so happy!”
So, fingers crossed things are going to get going again soon.
Please pray or think about speedy processing of these families who are waiting right now, and for all refugees who have been waiting for such a long time.
And thank you for your continued support.
The Honourable John McCallum, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
365 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1L1
We are writing to you about the present situation with sponsorship and settlement of refugees in light of the recent discussions between the SAH Association Council and IRCC. The Anglican Diocese of British Columbia is a Sponsorship Agreement Holder working on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, and has been privately settling refugees since the late 1970s.
First of all we applaud the Liberal government for meeting its pre-election pledge to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada in remarkably quick time, and undertaking to land up to 18,000 Privately Sponsored Refugees in 2016.
Unfortunately we note that the pace of processing Blended Visa Office Referral refugees has slackened in recent times. A number of well-organized and funded Refugee Support Constituent Groups who have already invested in settlement costs have been left completely in the dark as to when the refugees will actually arrive. Furthermore, the announcement that the quota and capping system will apply to Syrian non-BVOR refugee applicants, even some in process, is causing further doubts among groups actively supporting those endeavours. These delays and the shifting sands of admissions policy are frustrating for the Constituent Groups and undoubtedly frustrating and frightening for the refugees and their families.
We have been pleased to see that some applications for refugee status in Canada which had under the previous government been languishing in various visa offices, in some cases for up to 6 years, have been acted upon in recent months, and we are thankful for that. However, we are concerned that the system does not fall back into its past practices of long delays which did nothing for the confidence of either the refugees or the Constituent Groups that private sponsorship and settlement was a priority of the Canadian government.
Finally, we believe that the mantra of Canadian refugee policy should involve a clear return to a blending of government and private sponsorship which respects fully the motivations, efforts and energies of citizens committed to this enterprise. This successful model the basis of Canada’s recognition in 1986 as a nation committed to supporting refugees through the bestowing of the Nansen Award by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
On behalf of the many, many generous Canadians helping, and willing to help the refugees, and on behalf of the many, many refugees for whom Canada is the last hope, we thank you for considering this letter, and urge you to continue with the noble and energetic initiative that brought the first 25,000 refugees to our country.
The Reverend Canon D. Bruce Bryant Scott BA MDiv ThM, Refugee Coordinator
Mr. John McLaren LLB LLM LLD, Chair of the Diocesan Refugee Committee
Since February 1st, we have been paying rent at an apartment for the family we are sponsoring who was supposed to have arrived at the end of January. As far as we knew, our family was “travel ready” meaning there was nothing stopping them from getting on a plane to come here. People are asking me questions all the time as to the whereabouts of “our” family. The short story is, there is no way to know. Canada has welcomed 25,000 government sponsored refugees, but our family was not among them. This was an update I received from the Anglican Diocese a few days ago:
“The SAH Council met with the federal office, IRCC, last Friday and they wrote us this email below as we wait for a formal update.
‘There will be a lot of information from our meetings with IRCC in the coming week once we digest it all and there will hopefully be some direct communications from IRCC setting out a lot of things that SAHs have been looking for clarity on.
One of the things that I think that we can say in general about BVOR arrivals is that those that did not arrive ran into some sort of processing challenge along the way which made it necessary to take them off the very fast conveyor belt to Canada, and there is no one answer to why that happened. Now that the charter flights have stopped the visa office is re-grouping these cases that did not travel for one reason or another and lining them up with IOM who will then start looking for places on regular commercial flights. It is a bit more unpredictable as to when arrivals will be because of this shift in the way the operation, but we have asked for some indications from IRCC on what sponsors can expect going forward. For one thing though, they want to got back to NATs that give you at least 10 days notice of arrival.'”
And so we wait some more.
There’s No Place Like Home
Over 100 artists are creating unique and original birdhouses to be auctioned off at a fundraising event on Tuesday , March 29th, 2016 at 7pm at the Inn at Laurel Point, waterfront hotel in Victoria, BC.
The event will include a live auction with Roshan Vickery, a silent auction, light refreshments, a cash bar, grab bags and more surprises! The Tom Vickery Trio featuring Tom Vickery, Rob Johnson and Kelby MacNayr will provide live music.
Tickets are $50. Proceeds will go to sponsoring Syrian Refugee families in the Victoria area through the Anglican Diocese.
Come and support this great fundraiser. Together we can make a difference!
Tickers available through Rebecca Craigie at email@example.com Or 250-857-8613
Or online at
Thank you to everyone who came out and participated and supported the Barn Dance last Saturday. We made close to $ 1400 to put towards the Syrian Family’s funds, but we also received two bags of gifts and new clothes and an envelope full of gift cards — from thrifty smile cards to $ 150 visa gift card and many more!
So many people donated food and time – what a wonderful effort.
Thanks to everybody in the group who was involved – it was really a fun night!