Long road ahead to bring refugees to Rossland

A local group announced in last week’s paper that they will be helping a refugee family make their way to Rossland.

A local group announced in last week’s paper that they will be helping a refugee family make their way to Rossland. The group is the West Kootenay Friends of Refugees.

One of the organizers, Kathy Moore, gave some more details on the procedure that will now follow.

Moore said the idea of helping a refugee family began at a wine and cheese dinner where the East Kootenay Friends of Burma, a group that’s been sponsoring refugees for 27 years, spoke.

“They came over with a couple of their refugee sponsors and a slideshow and just talked to the people interested in hearing the details in bringing refugees over,” Moore explained.

“They started bringing people from Burma and other countries.”

Moore said the organization has been bringing over one family a year.

Families then come to the East Kootenay, with some staying and some moving on. “They bring them over, get them started, get them integrated into Canadian society and launch them into their new life,” she said.

“There was a group of us sitting around there that night that said, ‘hey, maybe we should think about doing this.’ We’re a pretty proactive community here and it seemed like a nice thing to do to help those less fortunate. Some of these people come from really difficult circumstances. So that’s kind of how it started.”

There’s a core group of about nine members.

Moore said there are those who want to help the families themselves, but don’t want to be involved in the day-to-day running of the group.

“We’re definitely looking for more people to get involved, but right now, our main thrust is trying to get people to go to the credit union and sign up to make small monthly deposits into the account,” she said.

“Rather than trying to do a lot of fundraising events, because there are so many groups in town that do that, we’re hoping we can get people to sign up for some small donation a month and then basically forget about it.”

Moore said it could just be a couple lattes worth that you wouldn’t miss, but they take any amount, as they’re trying to gather the funds to support the family when they’re here.

They need to raise about $20,000.

Moore said they also want to help people learn more about refugees and will be having a couple of events in the new year which invite people to hear more about what the life of a refugee is like, how they become refugees and what people can do to help them.

“That will be sort of fundraising too, where we’ll have people make a donation at the door and watch a presentation and talk about these issues,” she said.

Moore said the group is pretty excited and already has applications in for a family of six.

Though they are two separate families, they’re related. There are three kids and three adults.

“We got word that our application was accepted by the Canadian immigration services, but then what they do is go through a very extensive interview process, background check, health check,” she said. “There’s all kinds of things that they do.

“It could take a couple years before they get here. So we’re not expecting them anytime soon.”

That’s another reason they’re going for the automatic deposit fundraising effort.

“If a whole bunch of people put in $5 or $10, the money will add up over time.”

For more info on sponsorship in general, visit the East Kootenay Friends of Burma and the Calgary Friends of Burma.