July 1, 2017

We were happily surprised by an unexpected visit from Siba Alkahour, founder of Najda Now, on Sunday, June 18. Siba has been working tirelessly for several years to settle Syrian refugees in Canada. She has given heart and soul to saving as many people as possible. 

It was thanks to Siba that we found the Al Mohammad and Nakhla families. We were all a bit
teary-eyed as Siba shared words of thanks to the congregation. 

There are many ways that we imagine taking action in the world. Supporting Syrian refugee families has been one of the most direct and effective actions we could take to make a measurable difference in the lives of others. 

There are moments when we are reminded that each refugee who makes it to Canada is a life saved. Not but a month or so ago, Aboud Al Mohammad lost one of his dearest friends. They had been
living together while going to school in Jordan, separated from the rest of the family. Unexpectedly, before the Al Mohammads came here, Aboud's friend was deported back to Syria. Once home, he was shot in a field for no apparent reason along with another young man. Aboud's uncle, Omar's brother, was also gunned down earlier this year while riding in his car. 

As both families tell us, it is still unbelievable to them that they are finally on safe and peaceful ground. So, thank you, dear congregation, for all you have done to make these sponsorships possible. 

Refugee Task Force—Rev. Diane Rollert, David Rollert, John Inder, Leah Garfield-Wright

June 1, 2017

Both families we are sponsoring are now fully settled in Montreal. The outpouring of support and generous welcome has been amazing. Thank you!

On May 14, both families joined Rev. Diane at a gala event sponsored by the Syrian Kids Foundation, where the church was awarded a plaque of recognition for our work supporting Syrian refugees. The highlight of the evening was seeing both families connecting warmly with each other. It is wonderful to watch the friendship developing between these two wonderfully warm families.

Your help is needed to raise additional money for our Refugee Fund:
We are looking for additional funds to cover unexpected costs, such as dental work (root canals, for example, are not covered by the federal government’s health program for refugees) and
translation services for medical appointments. We’d like to raise $5,000 to ensure that these
additional needs can be covered. If you can get the word out to your networks, that would be most appreciated. Cheques can be made out to UCM with “refugee fund” in the memo line. Also, you can click on the link to the right of this article to donate. Tax receipts are provided for gifts of $25 or more.

Refugee Task Force—Rev. Diane Rollert, David Rollert, John Inder, Leah Garfield-Wright

May 1, 2017 Update

Hanna and Nadia, the parents of Nikola and Wasem, will be arriving on Friday, April 28. It has been a long, nail-biting wait. We are so very relieved that by the time you read this they will have arrived. We are grateful to Immigration Quebec and to the office of federal Minister Marc Garneau for providing us with information and support to keep things moving along.
 
Nikola and Wasem are attending part-time French classes as they wait to be assigned to the
full-time program. They are settling in well and are looking forward to welcoming their parents to their new home.

The Al Mohammad family continues to do well. Everyone is now enrolled in school, from the
youngest to the oldest. The adults are all attending full-time French courses and are quickly learning the basics. The children and the adults are making friends with immigrants from around the world with French as their common means of communication.

A fantastic evening of potluck and fellowship was held in early April in the church’s Phoenix Hall, bringing together the two families we are sponsoring along with one of the families being sponsored by Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom. Members of the church’s and the temple’s refugee sponsorship teams brought bountiful and delicious food, with about 50 people in attendance. As Unitarians, Jews, Muslims and Christians, we joyfully broke break together. Thanks to the planning team and kitchen crew!

Gifts of time, bicycles, summer camp tuition, and money for dental care have been donated in the past month. It’s amazing how the generosity continues.

Thanks to everyone for your gifts and ongoing support of both families.

Refugee Task Force—Rev. Diane Rollert, David Rollert, John Inder, Leah Garfield-Wright

April 4 Update - Happy News!

Dear UCM Family,

The Refugee Sponsorship Team and I have very happy news to share.

Hanna and Nadia Nakhla, parents of Nikola and Wasem, will be arriving on Friday, April 28. It has been a long, nail-biting wait. We are so very relieved that they will be arriving soon.

In the meantime, Nikola and Wasem are just beginning their part-time French classes as they wait to be assigned to the full-time program. They are settling in well and are looking forward to welcoming their parents to their new home at the end of the month.

Thanks to everyone for your ongoing support of both families we are sponsoring.

With a great and grateful sigh of relief,

Rev. Diane
and the rest of the Refugee Sponsorship Team: Leah Garfield-Wright, John Inder and David Rollert

April 1, 2017 Update

Update on the Second Family

Happily, members of the second family we are sponsoring have started to arrive. Nikola, the oldest son, arrived on February 24. He came to church that first weekend and we were able to introduce him to many in the congregation. His brother Wasem (pronounced with a long e:  Waseem in English or Wasim in French) arrived on the night of March 8. Their parents are still awaiting their travel instructions in Lebanon and we hope to welcome them soon. (Once they all arrive, I will start referring to them by their family name.) 

The housing team and the gifts-in-kind team did a tremendous job finding a lovely two-bedroom apartment in NDG for them. The apartment is now fully furnished, including new beds that were donated by the bedding company Casper. Both young men have been outfitted for the cold — including a last-minute emergency call for gloves. They are slowly starting to adjust to the temperature here.
 
Both brothers have initiated the process to register for the government French immersion program. The finance and job training teams will help with their integration, and the health team will be helping them get their RAMQ cards. 

Update on the Al Mohammads

Our education and health teams have been incredibly on top of things, as they help Omar, Salwa and their seven children get acclimated. Everyone now has a health card and all the children are in school. Everyone is adjusting well, even with many communications from the schools to be deciphered. Our translators have been fantastic and very generous with their time. 

The two oldest children and their father have begun their French immersion programs. Salwa, 
mother of the family, will begin her program at the end of April. We were able to make a case with the Ministry of Immigration to change her original assignment so that she could be closer to home in order to have enough time to prepare the children for school and get her youngest son to day care, hence the delay of her start. I am especially grateful to the people in Minister Kathleen Weil’s office who have been incredibly helpful.

The two oldest children are also taking an evening course in English. They are very motivated to succeed here in both national languages. The oldest son has also started playing soccer, his passion, and we’ve found a source for getting him a bicycle so he can get to practices more easily.

Thanks to a contact through MP Marc Garneau’s office, the family was offered a gift of summer camp — a whole summer for free! All the children age 4-15 will go to camp, and the older children will most likely be able to volunteer. The French immersion programs take a break in July and
August, so this will be good way to keep everyone busy.

The family is also being visited on Saturdays by a student from Concordia who is working on a
design project that will focus on creating either a cookbook of family recipes or a game for the
children. The family is most appreciative of the attention, especially to the children. 
  
A Very Significant Goodbye

Marlean Martin, our fearless refugee sponsorship task force chair, has decided to step down in
order to focus on family needs. Marlean was our true hero on the task force. Way back before this whole process started, Marlean approached me to say that she really wanted to make sure a refugee sponsorship program was implemented at the church. She didn’t balk when I asked her to spearhead the team. If it hadn’t been for her willingness to step into that role, we might never have gotten things off the ground. 

If you know Marlean, you know how humble she is. She never wanted to take centre stage, but her quiet, constant efforts behind the scenes kept us all on track. We absolutely could not have done this without her. Thankfully, Leah Garfield-Wright joined the task force this winter. With Leah and the rest of the team still on board, Marlean says that she feels she is leaving things in good hands. David, John, Leah and I will really miss working with her. So much of this project’s success is due to her. Thank you, Marlean!
 
Thank you to all! I don’t think I could ever thank all our volunteers enough. I generally refrain from naming specific people in these messages because I don’t want to inadvertently miss anyone. Some of you are working overtime, and you know who you are. I hope you know that you are loved and truly appreciated. Everyone has given so much time, gifts and money. I also know the returns have been great for us all. As one person recently wrote to me, just before Wasem arrived:
 
"I cannot tell you how much this experience has enriched our lives. As anyone who has met Nikola or the Al Mohammads knows, they are very special people. Together we have all created a microcosm of pure goodness."
 
I agree wholeheartedly. The experience with both families has enriched our lives amazingly. I have constantly said that we need to remember that we are sponsoring these families and not adopting them. This is still true — and I so appreciate how careful everyone has been to respect boundaries and to honour the wishes and needs of each family. Yet, truth be told, many of us have started to feel “adopted” by the Al Mohammads as they welcome us into their home and into their hearts. I won’t be surprised if the same happens with Nikola and Wasem’s family.

- Rev Diane Rollert
Refugee Task Force—Rev. Diane Rollert, David Rollert, John Inder, Leah Garfield-Wright

March 1, 2017 Update

The second Syrian refugee family that we are sponsoring - father, mother and two sons ages 23 and 27 - will be arriving in Montreal soon. The older son will have arrived in late February, with the second son following on March 8. We expect to hear shortly about the arrival date of their
parents. We’ve been in constant touch with the family through email and occasional Skype
meetings. We’re so looking forward to meeting them in person.

We are renting an apartment for them in NDG. It’s bright and sunny, with a view of a park and an Arabic dépanneur on the corner.

Please help us in our continued effort to furnish their home. Please read the instructions and download our needed donations document below. We are in particular need of dressers, lamps,
a coffee table, end tables, and good-quality rugs..

Download the Needs image

Instructions:

1. Large items such as couches, tables, and beds: Send an email to anamarijasoco@yahoo.com and michelle@cambiumconsulting.com with a description of the item and a picture. All large item donations must be stored by you, the donor, until the arrival of the family, and must be in excellent condition, without rips, stains or any damage.

2. Small and medium items such as dishes, lamps, coffee maker, towels, etc:

May be dropped off at the church Monday to Thursday 9:30 am to 4:30 pm and Friday 9:30 am to 1:30 pm. Please email the church administrator, Julie Golick, to advise her that you will be coming. These must also be in excellent condition.

3. We are NOT accepting clothing at this time.

Thanks to all for your continued support.

Rev. Diane Rollert and the Gifts-in-Kind Team

February 1, 2017 Update

The Al Mohammad family is doing well as they adjust to life in Montreal. After a day of sledding and skiing in the Laurentian Mountains, organized by some of our volunteers, they reported, “We love Canada!” The Al Mohammads were also the guests of honour at a celebratory potluck dinner at the church hosted by the refugee sponsorship volunteer teams. A wonderful time was had by all. 
The primary and secondary school-aged children have settled into their welcome classes, and the older children and adults are now taking part-time courses in French. Their full-time French
immersion courses should begin soon.
The second family we are sponsoring has received their Certificats de séléction du Québec (CSQ), which is confirmation that they have been cleared to immigrate here. They are now waiting to receive their visas to travel from the Canadian embassy in Beirut. Their arrival could be just weeks away, but we won’t know for sure until we receive a message from Quebec immigration that their flights have been booked. Our volunteer teams are gearing up to welcome them and will be
sending out a specific request for items still needed soon. Until then, we will not be collecting any more gifts, as we have met our storage capacity. 

Thanks to all for your continued support.
Rev. Diane Rollert

Refugee Task Force —Rev. Diane Rollert, David Rollert, John Inder, Marlean Martin

December 24, 2016 Update

On the morning of November 28, 2016, we joyfully welcomed Omar, Salwa and their seven
children at Trudeau Airport. Four years ago, they were forced to flee from their home in Syria, just three days after the birth of their youngest child. The family arrived eager to begin their new life in Montreal as quickly as possible, and our volunteer teams immediately launched into action.

Today, the family has been integrated into their new home, community and the health care system. The children have begun school and the adults are about to begin their French language program. Everyone has been fully outfitted for the winter cold and their apartment already looks like home with added touches they have chosen from many donations. It has taken a village to accomplish so much in so little time. Our volunteers are amazing. They deserve all praise!

On December 4, the family joined us for our Sunday service. While in Jordan, they had created a beautiful glass plaque of gratitude which they presented to the congregation. (The plaque is now on display in the cabinet in Phoenix Hall.) In response, we sang Come Sing a Song with Me: “And I'll bring you hope when hope is hard to find, and I'll bring a song of love, and a rose in the
wintertime."  We then presented each family member with a freshly cut rose.

During a recent visit to their apartment, I noticed that Omar had hung three dried roses in display boxes above their couch in the living room. Curious, I asked him what they meant. ”Those are the roses you gave us!” he smiled. Tears came to my eyes. I hadn’t made the connection and now I stood there realizing how swiftly and significantly our bonds with this family are developing.

We have all been inspired by their love for each other, their cheerful laughter, their kind and
insistent hospitality and their incredible resilience. They, in turn, have spoken with much
admiration and gratitude for all the Unitarians they have gotten to know in this short time. 

We now wait in anticipation for the arrival of the second family we are sponsoring. We remain in constant touch with them, and we are hopeful that they will arrive early in the new year.

I cannot express enough gratitude to all of you for making these sponsorships possible,

Rev. Diane Rollert

Refugee Task Force —Rev. Diane Rollert, David Rollert, John Inder, Marlean Martin

November 28, 2016 Update

What joy! Omar, Salwa and their seven children arrived safely this morning. Everything went smoothly. They are now happily settled in their new apartment. They send their love and gratitude to the entire community and look forward to meeting everyone soon. For now, they are resting and getting their bearings.

We are so grateful to Ahmad and Muzna Dureid who were our translators today. Thank you, thank you to everyone for everything you have done to make this day possible. You are too many to name! But know that your gifts of time, money, and support mean the world to this family.
 
We all had tears in our eyes as we met for the first time. Today the family became permanent residents of Canada and Quebec. It has been a long journey! 

November 21, 2016 Update

At long last, they’re coming!

It’s been a year since we first voted to sponsor a Syrian refugee family. Now, finally, Omar, Salwa and their seven children are on their way. They will arrive in Montreal on November 28. Our sponsorship task force, along with our translator who has already developed a strong relationship with the family, will be at the airport to greet them with signs, flowers and tears of joy.

Thank you to the amazing teams of volunteers who have been preparing for their arrival. A newly painted apartment with all the necessary furnishings awaits the family. A list of translators has been compiled who will be assisting the education, health, and other teams as they help the family get started in their new life. What a beautiful way to begin the New Year.

In the meantime, we are waiting to hear news of Hanna and Nadia and their two sons. We remain in touch with them, and we hope they too will be on their way soon.

With much gratitude to everyone,

Refugee Task Force

 —Rev. Diane Rollert, David Rollert, John Inder, Marlean Martin

September,16 2016 Update

As you know, we have been anxiously waiting for the arrival of the two Syrian refugee families we are sponsoring. Here’s the latest update:
 
News About Both Families
The good news is that all of the paperwork for the family of 9, currently in Jordan, is complete, including background checks and medical exams. The next step is for one last Canadian immigration officer to sign off on the file. This should happen within the next four weeks (“inshallah," as they say). If approval is given, the family moves on to the next step, which is for the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to arrange for exit visas and transportation to Canada. 
 
We recently spoke with the family via Internet. They are trying their best to keep their spirits up. The children showed us a beautiful plaque they have made for the church, which they are anxious to deliver. The whole family sends their deepest gratitude to everyone for all we are doing.
 
The family of four in Beirut has had its medical exams and is waiting for the background check process to be complete. We are hopeful that this will be done soon. The family also sends its gratitude and have been in constant contact over the summer, learning what they can about their potential future in Quebec. Both families are keeping up with church news via Facebook and our website. It’s quite touching how much they know about us already.
 
We don’t foresee any problems for either family (again, inshallah!), except for the time it takes to get through the queue. Representatives in the government here tell us that they are confident that we will see both families by December. We’ve been told that the plan is to bring in 17,800 Syrian refugees to be settled by the end of 2016. They have tripled the number of applications they are accepting and have 65 specialists working in Amman, Beirut and Ankara.
 
Donations and Gifts-in-Kind - No More Furniture Needed
Thank you to all who have made financial donations as well as gifts of furniture and housewares. We now have plenty of goods in storage, enough to get the families started. We are no longer taking donations of furniture. If we find that more is needed, we’ll let you know. Thank you again for your generosity. Of course, financial gifts to the UCM Refugee Fund through Canada Helps / CanadaDon (en français) continue to be welcome.
  
Thank You!
Thank you for your patience, your involvement, your gifts and your continued commitment to both these families. I have great faith that we will meet them someday soon.

Rev. Diane Rollert

July 1, 2016 Update

We're very pleased to let you know that both families have now gone through the interview
process with the respective Canadian embassies in Amman and Beirut. Omar and Salwa's family of nine has received preliminary approval. They have gone through their medical exams and are
awaiting the results of their background checks. Hanna’s family of four very recently went through their interview and are now awaiting their medical exams.

We expect to welcome both families sometime before the end of the summer. Of course, we won’t know the exact date until about two weeks before they fly to Canada.

This summer, we may be in an “all hands on deck” situation. If you’d like to help out and aren’t on our volunteer list already, contact Marlean Martin.

Refugee Task Force —Marlean Martin, John Inder, Rev. Diane and David Rollert

June 1, 2016 Update

The biggest news was the dinner on May 5 to raise money for our refugee sponsorship
program. With 100 people paying $40 apiece, we raised $5,400. The volunteer team, led by Margo Pineau, Janet Clancy, Sue Montgomery, and Joan Honguh, did an amazing job of getting merchants to contribute, organizing a large and enthusiastic volunteer team and creating a great atmosphere. Much of the food was
generously donated by local restaurants and groceries. An anonymous donor provided a selection of especially good wines, which was sold by the glass to add significantly to the total collected. The wonderful Séguin, Mayrand, Edding trio played with skill and verve throughout the evening. 

Meanwhile, we’ve been in contact with both the federal and provincial governments, through the office of Marc Garneau, our Member of Parliament, and through the Québec ministère de
l'immigration, diversité et inclusion - where the minister is our MNA, Kathleen Weil.

We've been told that the recent slowdown in processing of refugees reflects extra caution in the wake of the Paris and Brussels attacks. Security checks have become even more thorough. The
concern is that the public might turn against refugees if the wrong people slipped in due to lax
security. We are told that two new pushes are coming, one this spring and the other this fall, to make sure all families who are in process get here this year.

It's been confirmed that both of our families' dossiers are in the embassies in Amman, Jordan and Beirut, Lebanon, and that security checks are in progress and medical checks have been ordered. These are the final steps in the process — apart from booking a flight.

We still don't know how long it will take. Things appear to be moving faster in Beirut than in
Amman, so our "second" family may arrive first.

We're in constant contact with both families. Both have been consistently good-humoured and very grateful in dealing with us. We can't wait to have them here.

Thanks to all the volunteers and contributors who've been so generous with their time and money — and patience. 

More event photos are available here.

Refugee Task Force —Marlean Martin, John Inder, Rev. Diane and David Rollert

May 5, 2016 Update

Here’s the latest update about the two Syrian refugee families we are sponsoring:
 
We’ve been in contact with both the federal and provincial governments, through the office of Marc Garneau, our Member of Parliament, and through the Québec ministère de l'immigration, diversité et inclusion — here the minister is our MNA, Kathleen Weil. The news is pretty good.
 
It's been confirmed that both of our families' dossiers are in the embassies in Amman, Jordan and Beirut, Lebanon, and that security checks are in progress and medical checks have been ordered. These are the final steps in the process, apart from booking a flight.
 
We don't, however, know how long it will take. Things appear to be moving faster in Beirut than in Amman, so our "second" family may arrive first.
 
As you probably know, everything had slowed down. We've been told that this is not only because the initial 25,000 refugees were brought to Canada, but also because, in the wake of the Paris and Brussels attacks, security checks have become even more thorough. No one wants the public to turn against refugees because the wrong people slipped in due to lax security. We are told that two new pushes are coming, one this spring and the other this fall, to make sure all families who are in process get here this year.
 
We're in constant contact with both families. If you think we're frustrated with the delays and uncertainty, imagine how they feel! Yet, both have been consistently good-humoured and very grateful in dealing with us. We can't wait to have them here.
 
Thanks to all the volunteers and contributors who've been so generous with their time and their money. We’re really looking forward to the fund raising dinner on Saturday. (The event is fully sold out — if you have a ticket and find you can’t go, please contact Margot Pineau at 514-485-3633.)
 
Hang in there! Lâche pas!
 
The Refugee Sponsorship Task Force
 
Marlean Martin
John Inder
Diane and David Rollert

April 27 - Report from the Syrian Refugee Task Force

The Task Force is looking at ways to encourage the government to speed up the process so that our two families could arrive before the summer. A couple of us have written to our MPs and other government officials requesting action on this issue. If you feel the same, please write to your MP and any other government officials you can think of who may be able to help. Be sure to include Minister of Immigration, John Mccallum. We are concerned for the Syrian refugees who have already been approved by Quebec and are being privately sponsored. This is a problem that other Quebec groups who are privately sponsoring Syrian refugee families are also facing. The longer they wait in refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon, the more difficult their lives become. Meanwhile, here in Quebec, their sponsors are waiting for them, have found housing, schools, etc. and are eager to help them adjust to their new lives and integration into Quebec society.

MP’s names and addresses, including email addresses, are easily found on the Canadian government website. You can also contact Mayor Denis Coderre and Premier Philippe Couillard directly on their government websites. Quebec officials are very relevant because Quebec handles its own immigration and these families have already been approved by Quebec. Premier Couillard is also part of a private sponsorship group for a Syrian refugee family
.
There will be a Syrian Night Fundraiser, May 7 at the church including a dinner with accompaniment by the Séguin, Mayrand, Edding trio. Tickets were $40 each for those lucky enough to get them. Update: This event has sold out. Thanks for everyone’s support!

Refugee Task Force —Marlean Martin, John Inder, Rev. Diane and David Rollert

Workshop on Intercultural Sensitivity and Syrian Culture

Tuesday, April 5, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Led by Rev. Diane Rollert and Adnan Al Mhamied, ICAN

This workshop will encompass activities to consider our own growing edges around interculturalsensitivity andprovide a guide to understanding Syrian culture.

Our guest, Adnan Al Mhamied, fled Syria in 2014 and is now a fellow in McGill’s International Community Action Network (ICAN) which brings together people from the Middle East studying social work and law to develop rights-based community practices to help empower citizens and foster peace. This program is open to the entire UCM community and especially to the volunteers who are working with the UCM to support the Syrian refugee families we are sponsoring. 
Childcare is available upon request.

March Update - Report from the Syrian Refugee Task Force

Things are starting to move quickly now as our teams prepare for our first family’s arrival. Diane stays in contact with the office of the Quebec Minister of Immigration to track the status of their file. She just received word that it will be sent from a processing centre in Winnipeg to the
Canadian embassy in Amman, Jordan in about two weeks. (We thought it was already in Jordan.) 
So their arrival date is probably a month or two away. 

The teams have been working hard, sometimes under great stress, to locate and sort out the most immediate needs. Already the fundraising team has managed to raise almost $60,000, and housing (an apartment in Ville Saint Laurent) and basic furniture (beds, table, sofa) have been found. However, all this requires negotiation (apt.), collaboration (pick-up, delivery, payment) and a lot of patience and goodwill.

 It would be a big help if anyone has a van or truck and could transport some of the larger items. This would save the cost of renting a van. 

Diane and John were able to Skype with the second family and John is maintaining email contact with the adult sons, both of whom speak English. Their arrival is probably further away; we
understand it takes longer for refugees coming from Lebanon to be processed. But we could always be surprised.

Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the Syrian Night Fundraiser on May 7 at the church. There will be dinner with accompaniment by the Séguin, Mayrand, Edding trio. Tickets will be on sale
after Sunday Services. 

Refugee Task Force —Marlean Martin, John Inder, Rev. Diane and David Rollert

More Good News

 
I am thrilled to announce that the second Syrian refugee family we have committed to sponsor has been approved to immigrate to Quebec. The next step is to wait for federal approval that will grant them permanent residence in Canada. Once this happens, they will be on their way here.
 
This is a family of two parents with two university-age sons. John Inder and I had the pleasure of meeting them via Skype on Thursday. They are very happy to be coming to Montreal after very trying times. Both sons speak English and are looking forward to the opportunity to learn French.
 
As with the first family, we don’t know when this family will arrive. But we’ll keep you posted. We have nine teams of volunteers preparing to welcome both families. These teams are looking after all aspects of their integration: housing, education, job training, health, orientation, and more. I am amazed by the diligence of these groups. They have hit the ground running!
 
What can you do to support this effort?
 
•Offer gifts in kind. Take a look at the wish list for furniture, household goods, and other items Johana Salas recently sent. See what you can offer, or let your friends and family know what we are seeking.
 
•Raise funds. Several members have gone door-to-door asking friends and neighbours to give donations for our refugee sponsorship fund. Contact Margo Pineau or Normand Gosselin for a form to use to collect funds. The church is now issuing tax receipts for annual gifts of $25 or more, or people can give via Canada Helps, https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/unitarian-church-of-montreal/, and get a tax receipt for any amount.
 
•Send a message to your social networks. Here’s a message I’m posting on my personal Facebook page. I encourage you to do the same!
 
My church, the Unitarian Church of Montreal, has made a commitment to sponsor two Syrian refugee families; a family of nine and a family of four. Both families have been approved to immigrate to Quebec and will hopefully arrive in Montreal soon. You can help us make a difference in these families’ lives. Go to Canada Helpshttps://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/unitarian-church-of-montreal/ to make a donation. Don’t forget to note in the message box that your gift is for the UCM Refugee Sponsorship Fund.
 
Your gift will help to support the integration of both these families into a new, hopeful life in Canada. Please share this message with your networks. Thanks!

 
These are exciting times for our community. Thanks for all your support and encouragement.
 
Faithfully, 
Rev. Diane Rollert

Quebec Immigration Approves First Family

Dear UCM Family,

I am thrilled to announce that the first Syrian refugee family we have agreed to sponsor has been approved by Quebec Immigration! Now we must wait for Canadian Immigration to approve the family as permanent residents of Canada. We understand that this process may take anywhere from three to eight weeks. 

This means that our family could arrive sometime between mid-March and mid-April. We have a lot to prepare! 

So please join me this coming Tuesday night, March 1, 7:00 p.m., for a special program about Syrian culture and the refugee experience. (This is the second in a series of events that we are asking all volunteers who will work with the family to attend.)

Syrian Refugee Roundtable: 
Syrian Culture and the Refugee Experience
Tuesday, March 1, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. 

Unitarian Church of Montreal
5035 de Maisonneuve Ouest, Montreal

The evening will begin with a Syrian Cultural Guide presented by Adnan Al Mhamied, followed by personal reflections about Syrian refugee experiences.

Our Guests:

Adnan Al Mhamied fled Syrian in 2014 and is now a student in McGill’s International Community Action Netowrk (ICAN) which brings together people from the Middle East studying social work and law to develop rights-based community practices to help empower citizens and foster peace.
  
Waseem Ramli immigrated from Syrian to Montreal many years ago and is currently helping Syrian refugees to come to Quebec. He will be joined by a recent refugee and their sponsor.

Jasmine Van Deventer is co-director of Singa Quebec, an organization dedicated to welcoming refugees “comme à la maison”.

I hope to see you Tuesday night,
Rev. Diane