“The voice of the asylum seeker … is a voice that’s difficult to hear at times. The asylum seeker’s voice … gets lost in the noise of politicians who shamelessly conflate asylum seekers with risk and terrorism … [and gets] crowded out by our own instinctual fear of the ‘other’.”
— Loren Balisky, executive director of Kinbrace Community Society
Last week Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson awarded $181,220 to five refugee support services, including $5,000 for CBWC-affiliated Kinbrace Community Society.
The money comes as Canada experiences an increase in refugee claimants. British Columbia and Manitoba have both had over 400 refugee claimants in the first three months of 2017 alone, and Alberta has received over 300.
Mayor Robertson spoke out in favour of refugee claimants during the funding announcement, something no other Canadian mayor has yet done.
Immigrant Services Society of BC received $70,220 towards their work in facilitating the myriad logistics of asylum claims. They are heavily relied on by refugees, government and other support agencies to connect refugees with services, housing, work, training and support. The funding is welcome, ISSofBC says, as they work to meet “unprecedented service demands.”
Kinbrace provides transitional housing for 30-40 refugees annually while the refugees wait for their claim to be processed. Kinbrace has a community living model where refugee families and several Kinbrace staff and their families share their lives in the same houses. Kinbrace staff embrace refugees in a community that walks alongside them during the complex and arduous refugee claims process. In addition to providing shelter, Kinbrace provides other essential supports like its very practical READY tours that orient refugees to the refugee claims system and for its advocacy on behalf of refugees.
Kinbrace is one of many community-based ministries associated with Grandview Calvary Baptist Church on the east side of Vancouver. To learn more about Kinbrace and its work with refugees, go to www.kinbrace.ca or contact Loren at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With files from ISSofBC