At first sight the images are just overwhelming – there are so many people in need. They have nothing left but hope – a desperate hope that there might be somewhere to start anew.
What can be done? How can we help?
Canada has been a leader in welcoming refugees and giving them a chance to thrive. Across Canada many groups like ours have joined this effort. Locally, Brockville has brought in over 12 families, Perth 4 families, Kemptville 2 families, and Merrickville 2 families. This story has been repeated throughout the country and there have been many examples of successful integration.
How we are helping
In December 2015 six friends in Merrickville decided that they needed to do something to help. Like hundreds of other groups and organizations across Canada they elected to form a group with the aim of bringing a refugee family to live in our community. This group, originally named Merrickville Bridge to Canada, has been renamed as Rideau Bridge to Canada.
The original group of Merrickville volunteers has now been expanded to include residents of Smiths Falls, Rideau Lakes and environs under the new name.
We have several community partners who fulfill various legal and supportive roles on our behalf. Choosing to act with and through these community organizations lends a higher degree of credibility and stability to our efforts.
These partners are:
Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Merrickville joined us as a co-sponsor of our second family and have agreed to help us sponsor an Afghan family.
The Ottawa Community Foundation manages the monetary donations to our group, which allows for tax receipts to be issued.
Rideau Community Health Services holds all donations in trust until such time as the family or Rideau Bridge to Canada requires them.
World Hope Canada were instrumental in coordinating the required documentation and application forms for the sponsorship for our first Syrian family.
The Canadian Baptists of Atlantic Canada has acted as our Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH).
We received guidance and support from several other local groups who resettled their own Syrian refugee families: the former Community Alliance for Refugee Resettlement (CARR) in Perth, the former Refugees in North Grenville (R.I.N.G) in Kemptville. Both of these groups have now been disbanded, although we are in touch with former members. We have worked with both Refugees for Brockville and the St. Lawrence-Rideau Immigration Partnership.