Vol 12 No. 9 God Doesn’t Make Throw-Away People (paraphrased from Donna Forster)

Dear friends,

I asked Rod Olson and Majd Ajji a series of questions on refugee settlement and engagement.  Here are their answers:

What is the general situation regarding Syrian refugees vis a vis Canada?

By the February 29th deadline, Canada welcomed 25,920 Syrians since November 4, 2015. The new government accomplished what they set out to do. This goal was completed by leaning on local settlement agencies across the country that were already set up for this work (the Canadian government brought in about 7000 Government Assisted Refugees in 2014). The Winnipeg processing office, where all the files are processed saw night shifts, day shifts and weekend shifts that helped make this happen. My local IRCC employee got to work by 7:30AM and was often still working at 6PM.  What that meant for many of our applications is that we would submit and 4 weeks later they were on an airplane landing to begin their new life.

Is there still a chance to sponsor Syrian Refugees? 

The action will slow down now – but there are still opportunities to submit applications for Syrian refugees through to the end of 2016. This is still our largest humanitarian emergency of our era.

Did this particular intake effect the intake and status of other refugees?

The initial effect was a reduction in the number of allocations (number of people we could sponsor) for populations outside of Syria from the previous Minister of Immigration Chris Alexander. We experienced a reduction of 25% in our allocations which was to make space for Syrians.

The second effect is that we are now waiting for our allocations from the current government. Because they have been very busy for the last four months very few other applications were being processed. There will be an announcement on March 8 to the Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH) about allocations for 2016. I am hopeful since CIC (Citizenship and Immigration Canada) was changed to IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada).

What do you tell people with family in Nairobi or other troubled spots in the world? 

When I encounter someone hoping to bring family from Nairobi or Cairo I tell them that the Syrian crisis has been a national education program for the plight of refugees. Everyone benefits by being more knowledgeable about our rights as Canadians and that we can act with compassion on behalf of brothers and sisters across the globe.

Are there other people / groups that will be coming to the fore in the near future that we should know about?

The Central African Republic has seen the displacement of nearly 1 million people due to conflict between the government and rebel forces. Iraq is still in need of support and South sudan is being torn apart by civil war with 2.7 million people displaced and a real risk of malnutrition among many.

What can you tell us about what we have been up to as the CBWC based on the efforts of both you and Majd? 

We have been able to help our churches and we have invited other church and community groups that do not have the legal agreement with the government (SAH) to join us in our efforts.

How many churches are involved?

30 of our churches have submitted applications; another 3 worked with the Mennonites; and we are working with 12 other CBWC churches currently who hope to sponsor. That means that  25% of our churches have been actively involved with settlement. We have other churches that gave towards these efforts. You can check our website to see where families have landed.

How many people have been settled?

76 Syrians have found new homes across Western Canada.

How many are in process?

We are waiting for 8 Eritreans, 3 Congolese, and 7 Iraqis that we have applied for. We are about to submit close to 40 more people.

Did we succeed at the “30 in 2015” Campaign?

We have submitted applications for 48 families to date. We are likely to submit another 20. I am very proud of our Baptist family.



In Christ,

Jeremy Bell