Refugee Sponsorship

Refugee Family Sponsorship

The Canadian Unitarian Council is a Refugee Sponsorship Agreement Holder with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. This Agreement allows Unitarian congregations to privately sponsor refugee families from war-torn countries.

Following approval from our Board of Trustees in November, 2015, the Unitarian Church of Calgary became a sponsoring congregation, and are working through the application process, fundraising and settlement of two refugee families in Calgary.

Our Ethiopian Family

Our Ethiopian couple, Desalegnn and Worknesh, are in their mid-thirties with no children, and were living in Kenya, after having suffered violence and torture in their own country. Their case was deemed to be urgent, as they had been awaiting sponsorship for a long time and were in danger of losing their place among those accepted to come to Canada. We were thrilled to be able to sponsor them and they arrived in Calgary on September 15, 2016.

They have recently started working five days per week cleaning at an office building downtown. The terrific thing is that they can continue their English studies and earn an income at the same time. Our financial support, as their sponsor, comes to and end on September 15, 2017, one year after arrival, and with their jobs they will be earning about as much as we were giving them.

Our Iraqi Family

Our Iraqi family consists of a father (who is a professional musician), mother and three children ages 10 years and under. They have repeatedly suffered from sectarian violence. In a home invasion, the children’s grandfather was kidnapped and killed, and the father’s musical instrument was damaged. In a separate incident, the youngest child was injured by a car bomb and, without surgery, may lose the sight in one eye. They have fled Iraq and are living in precarious circumstances in Turkey.

There is still no word on the processing of the application for this family, but members of the Refugee Sponsorship Committee continue to stay in email contact with them. Most recently, they reported that their status on the Immigration website had changed from “application received” to “in process.”

The Canadian Unitarian Council has joined with other faith groups and is encouraging Unitarians to
write federal Ministers and MPs urging action regarding the long delays in processing refugee
submissions, particularly private sponsorships where the money has been raised and groups are ready
to help. Please see the article on A Campaign to Fix Canada’s Broken Refugee System. Contacting the appropriate officials is one thing we can do to try to help this family.