Many people in the UCM community have made clear that they would like for us to sponsor a refugee family from the Syrian conflict, and to do this as quickly as possible.
A core team has formed, led by Marlean Martin, along with John Inder and David Rollert, to research what is involved and to propose a course of action. After attending an information session offered by Action Réfugiés Montréal (ARM) and other research, we are convinced that sponsoring a refugee family is something our community can do right now.
This is a big commitment, yet the risks are limited. Under the programs we would use, our legal and financial responsibility would be limited to one year (though of course our human commitment would most likely continue), and the cost is manageable, between $20,000 and $40,000, depending on the family. Because the family we would help would include women, Rev. Diane has agreed to underwrite part of the effort with the Cordner Fund, which is earmarked to help women in difficulty at the discretion of the minister. This enables us to get started on the process as soon as we receive congregational approval.
We need volunteers to make this work! Specifically, we need people who will help with creative fundraising further down the line. Once the family arrives (which, frustratingly, will take months), we will need volunteers to help with their integration into Montreal society: health care, education, housing, shopping, job searching and language. If you want to help, please contact Marlean at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch for more information, and for your chance to ask questions. We will invite ARM to present to us as soon as their overworked staff are able, and we will put the effort to a congregational vote at our annual budget meeting on November 22. Below is the resolution for that meeting.
Thanks for all you will do to support this important community effort.
RESOLUTION FOR SYRIAN REFUGEE SPONSORSHIP TO BE VOTED ON AT THE CONGREGATIONAL MEETING, NOVEMBER 22, 2015
WHEREAS: the number of refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria exceeds the normal capacity of other states to receive them, and
WHEREAS: the UCM Mission is to take action in the world, and the Vision on social action includes working "face-to-face and hand-in-hand with others within and outside our own community," and
WHEREAS: a Syrian Refugee Task Force is in place to apply to sponsor a family of refugees and to provide support, and the $14,000 necessary to start the process has been made available to them, and
WHEREAS: the additional money necessary, possibly about $30,000 depending on the number of children in the family, can be obtained between additional grants from the Cordner Fund and specific fund raising that will be developed in consultation with the Stewardship Committee so as not to detract from the crucial support of members for the UCM,
RESOLVED: That the refugee task force initiate the sponsorship process on behalf of the UCM and invite a family whose application is likely to succeed to apply to the Canadian government for refugee status. The task force will be responsible for the application, and for coordinating technical and interpersonal support of that family while they are in Montreal. The task force will reach out to members to provide a multi-disciplinary team to support the refugee family for the one year required by the program after they arrive in Montreal.