West Kootenay Friends of Refugees has been working towards sponsoring several refugee families for the last two years.
After a couple of set backs a very exciting opportunity opened up this week: A new family in need of sponsorship has already been approved by Canadian Immigration, and will arrive in Rossland soon.
Kathy Moore, WKFoR chair, was contacted Monday morning by the coordinator for the government’s Refugee Resettlement Program about this family to sponsor.
“Our group just got the opportunity to help this young Burmese family—mom, dad, two-year-old son,” said Moore. “The catch is, they will be ready to come to Canada within the next four to six week.”
Due to the intricacies of the Canadian immigration system, the Rossland group has to make a decision on sponsoring them this week, said Moore.
“Our priority is getting them housing, and we need the public’s help,” she said.
But the challenge is the shortage of rental housing in Rossland at this time. And here is the dilemma, said Moore: The Refugee Resettlement office needs a commitment this week.
“We are nervous about committing to sponsoring the family without at least a backup place lined up for them to stay while we seek permanent housing,” she said. “We really need an angel to step forward and offer a solution.”
WKFoR needs a home for the refugee family, even if it’s just temporary housing until a permanent alternative is found. If they can line something up this week, the group will continue to seek something more permanent before, or shortly after, the family arrives.
When asked what they were looking for, Moore was open to all possibilities.
“It could be anything; a small house, a condo, an apartment, a secondary suite, a place that the owners aren’t coming back to until later in the season, even a kitchenette at one of the hotels. We are open to all suggestions.”
Members of the Rossland group will be spending time with the family daily as they settle in so the property will be
well looked after, Moore noted.
The West Kootenay Friends of Refugees group will pay rent and cover all the utilities and the family’s other expenses. They’ve been fundraising for two years in anticipation of bringing several families to town.
In addition, the federal government offers to contribute payment equal to social assistance for the first six months.
The WKFoR group has committed to supporting them for 12 months.
The family fled religious persecution in Burma based on their Christian beliefs. The parents have some basic English skills and have worked in restaurants, hair salons and schools in Burma.
Their son is two years old. They are currently living as refugees in Malaysia where Burmese are not welcome to seek permanent asylum. Burma was on the list of five countries identified by the Canadian government in 2013 as having refugees most in need and best able to resettle in Canada.
If anyone in the community can offer any suggestions for housing or to volunteer please contact Kathy Moore firstname.lastname@example.org or call 250-362-3319.