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 will work through the application process, fundraising and settlement of two refugee families in Calgary.

In the fall of 2015, an Iraqi family was identified through our networks. Our application was submitted to the federal government in the spring of 2016 as part of the Canadian Unitarian Council’s allocation of private refugee ‘spots’ for this year. Their arrival in Calgary is still several months away. In the meantime, the church agreed to sponsor  an Ethiopian couple as part of the government’s Blended Visa Office Referred program, where the financial costs of the sponsorship are shared between the government and the voluntary sector.

About the Families

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.

The Ethiopian couple 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.

Project Update – February 22

Our Ethiopian refugees, Workenesh and Desalegnn, continue to thrive. Thanks to various members of our committee, in addition to their English classes and volunteering at both the Drop In Centre and Habitat for Humanity, they have a busy social  calendar, including trips to places of interest (the latest being Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump), hockey games, cooking classes, and church concerts or other events, at which you may have seen them. There is still no word on the processing of the application for our Iraqi family, so we are going to send a letter of enquiry to Members of Parliament to provide a gentle nudge and see if we can obtain more information.


Tax receipts will be issued for all donations.
All money donated will go toward Refugee Sponsorship, not the Unitarian Church of Calgary.

Ways to donate:

  • Send a cheque made out to the Unitarian Church of Calgary with “Refugee Sponsorship” clearly indicated on the memo line. You can put it in the “Refugee” box in the church office or mail it in (attention: Refugee Sponsorship).
  • Fill out a Pledge Form and a Pre-Authorized Deposit Agreement if you want the money to be withdrawn from your bank account. You can put the forms in the “Refugee” box in the church office or mail them in (attention: Refugee Sponsorship).
  • Donate via the PayPal button below. You do not need a PayPal account if you use your credit card. If you are using your phone, you will need to specify that the donation is for the Refugee Fund in the message line. If you are using your computer, this designation will be automatic.

For More Information

For additional information about this program or how you can help, please contact the Refugee Committee.