While we are waiting…


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Letter to Minister McCallum

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

Dear Minister:

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.

Yours sincerely,

The Reverend Canon D. Bruce Bryant Scott BA MDiv ThM, Refugee Coordinator

Mr. John McLaren LLB LLM LLD, Chair of the Diocesan Refugee Committee

Refugee Committee Letter to Minister March 2016

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Update on the Status of “our” family

Hello everyone,

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.
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Upcoming Fund Raiser


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 rebeccajane1976@gmail.com Or 250-857-8613

Or online at




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Barn Dance Fundraiser a Huge Success!

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!
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Barn Dance

There is a fund-raiser happening at St Barnabas, a Barn Dance Saturday, February 20, 6 to 9 PM.barndance.

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So you want to learn Arabic

Who learns language and how? Great thinkers have asked this question and the answers are deep inside of us. Even our mother tongue is a mystery. How is it that we use it both to order coffee and to write a poem, to name an illness and to sing a song? The tongue is a great mystery and it can be used as a weapon also with considerable destructive power.

In Canada, we have learned that immersion is the best way to learn language, and early in life is the best time. Learning multiple languages comes easier for some than for others, young or old. When we were young in Canada, French and English were mandatory in school and if you were a lucky tyke in attitudes among the social structures you grew up in, both languages were picked up to some extent. At my school, we also learned Latin. But we learned it as ‘dead’ rather than living. This was not lucky for us. Latin is very much alive for example in the world of liturgy and theology so to teach it as if dissecting a carcass was irresponsible, to say the least.

Latin language learners learn Latin letters, the A-B-C we all know so well with a few minor diacritics (accents) in French like é, and ç, and so on, compared to English. Learning a language with a stranger alphabet and that reads right to left rather than left to right and that uses diacritics for vowels adds some twists. Arabic and Hebrew have these extra difficulties for North American English and French speakers.

It’s the ear rather than the eye that dominates learning in childhood. So why write or read when hearing, speaking, and singing are the critical skills? Learning a song would be a good aural start. It’s not impossible to use the eye, but it is slow and limiting compared to the immersion with the ear.

Nonetheless, I am writing, and I puzzle, so here are a couple of puzzle pieces that may help the process of hearing a sentence in Arabic. But these are things I learned as a puzzle-solver when I learned Hebrew in my 60’s, and my 60’s are in the past now – so I am aged and not a youth. So I have a little knowledge in right to left reading. But Hebrew is so different from Arabic.

These two sister tongues are written in entirely different scripts: one square with all letters separated from each other. No ligatures. One with almost every letter having 4 forms depending on how you tie it to the next and prior letters in the word! Yet they have many similarities also in word order, in word appendages like tacked-on personal pronouns, and they have many words that sound the same in each language. We need examples.

Now you have two paths: guess with me (below) or listen to this marvelous first lesson on writing Arabic from Maha. I have been messing with Arabic for a few years just like I did with Hebrew and learning next to nothing. This young woman can teach.

What follows is pure guesswork from me – but a little fun. Google translate for Arabic is a significant exposure of the translation issues.

la plume de ma tante est sur la table de mon oncle
sa plume est sur son table

My aunt’s pen is on my uncle’s table
her pen is on his table

القلم عمتي على طاولة عمي
قلمها على طاولته

alqilam eummati ealaa tawilat eumy
qallamaha ealaa tawilatih

We could spend a long time on this! I think you can just hear the possessive pronoun my at the end of the second word and the fifth – it’s an ee sound that you can see in the second from the right Arabic word and the fifth from the right word (ي) but transcribed differently.

So can we see and hear the his and her also? Yes – but there are more changes than I was expecting.

And note the word for pen, like quill in English. al-qilam the quill, qallamaha, his quill. Also clearly aunt and uncle are the same word in Arabic. Play some more.

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