The Canadian Unitarian Council is a Refugee Sponsorship Agreement Holder with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. This Agreement allows Unitarian congregations to privately sponsor refugee families from war-torn countries.
Following approval from our Board of Trustees in November, 2015, the Unitarian Church of Calgary became a sponsoring congregation. So far, we have brought two refugee families to Calgary, one from Ethiopia and one from Iraq.
The Ethiopian couple we sponsored are in their mid-thirties with no children. They were living in Kenya, after having suffered violence and torture in their own country. Their case was deemed to be urgent, as they had been awaiting sponsorship for a long time and were in danger of losing their place among those accepted to come to Canada. We were thrilled to be able to sponsor them, and they arrived in Calgary in September 2016. They were quickly settled in a fully furnished apartment. Both were immediately enrolled in full-time English classes, and before the end of our official sponsorship year, both were working part-time as well. The husband is now employed full-time and the wife continues to work part-time and attend full-time English classes. We continue to see them socially and to support the further development of their English skills.
The Iraqi family we sponsored consists of a father (who is a professional musician), mother and three children. They repeatedly suffered from sectarian violence in Iraq, and fled to Turkey, where they lived in precarious circumstances for several years. We welcomed them to Calgary in March 2018. We were able to settle them immediately in a fully furnished rental home (the main floor of a house). The children are all enrolled in public schools and in recreational activities, and the parents are studying English full-time. The father’s musical instrument (which had been heavily damaged in a violent incident in Iraq) has been repaired, and he is playing in a community orchestra.
He is exploring career training and employment opportunities with the assistance of two immigrant-serving community agencies and some members of our committee. We are providing assistance with English practice, child care, connections to community services and in other ways as needed. We are enjoying getting to know them through social activities as well.
Tax receipts will be issued for all donations. All money donated will go toward Refugee Sponsorship, not the Calgary Unitarians.
Please contact the Refugee Committee if you wish to donate, want further information, or are interested in joining the committee.