Tuesday, April 05, 2016
The Refugee Challenge
I wrote recently about the potluck meal held at Bridge St. United to welcome our sponsored Syrian refugee family, the Al Mansours, along with another family sponsored by another group. The Al Mansours are pictured above from that evening. We are so pleased that they are adjusting well to life in Canada, and they are so grateful to be here. All are working on their English, and dad is itching to find work.
Unfortunately our positive experience is not shared by others, as you have probably seen in the news. Many sponsorship groups, including faith communities, have been waiting and waiting for word on their sponsored families and individuals. The complaint is that there is no transparency on the part of the federal government and some cynicism that now the "photo op" is over and the 25,000 target has been reached there is less urgency to settle refugees. I am reluctant to criticize a government that has done so much better than most nations, including our neighbours to the south. Yet we know that the process is not what it should be.
To add to the confusion, last week the government announced that prospective sponsor groups had a mere twenty-four hours to file applications for up to 10,000 more Syrian refugees. Virtually everyone involved in sponsorship was caught off guard and scrambled to complete the paperwork. A handful of us at Bridge St. worked feverishly last Thursday to fill in the forms for several households related to the Al Mansours, all of which are living in camps outside Syria. We had hoped for a measured approach to family reunification through sponsorship of additional family members but were thrust into a different approach.
Daily we are reminded that the planetary crisis of displaced persons is deepening. While we can't solve this complex challenge, we can choose to respond with practical compassion and Christ's love. As voters and constituents in this democracy we can also let our governments know how important this is to us.