Whitehorse Daily Star

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HELPING NEWCOMERS SETTLE IN – Hillary Gladish, Kaitlyn Kwok, Dave Eikelboom, Sarah Aasman and Gina Anderson, left-right, make up the Riverdale Baptist Church refugee committee.

Second Syrian family to settle in the Yukon

A second family of refugees from Syria may soon call Whitehorse home.

By Sidney Cohen on July 15, 2016

A second family of refugees from Syria may soon call Whitehorse home.

Hillary Gladish, who is leading the initiative on behalf of the Riverdale Baptist Church, said this week the family is expected to arrive sometime in the next four to 12 weeks.

Though she doesn’t know all the details yet, Gladish said the family includes a stay-at-home mother, a father who is trained as a mechanic, crane operator and heavy equipment operator, one child who is 12 and 11-year-old twins.

They come to the Yukon from Damascus and Aleppo by way of Turkey.

“It’s important to fulfill our obligation and responsibility as global citizens and be able to respond to the current crisis,” Gladish told the Star about why the church is helping bring Syrian refugees to Canada.

“This is just one way that we can be active participants in our local and our global communities.”

The Riverdale Baptist Church applied to sponsor the family through the Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) Program. That Canadian government venture matches private sponsors with refugees selected by the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Through the BVOR program, the federal government and private sponsors work together to support refugees as they settle into their new lives in Canada.

Ottawa offers up to six months of income assistance and the sponsor is responsible for another six months of income.

The program also requires the private sponsor to provide social and emotional support for a year.

The refugee is not expected to pay or reimburse the sponsor.

The difference between BVOR sponsorship and purely private sponsorship is that with the latter, the sponsor is responsible for supporting the refugee(s) financially for a whole year, as opposed to just six months.

Yukon Cares, a non-denominational volunteer organization aimed at resettling refugees in the Yukon, used the BVOR program to bring the first family of Syrian refugees to Whitehorse. That family of 11 arrived last January.

This is the Riverdale Baptist Church’s second attempt at bringing a family of refugees to the Yukon.

Initially, the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada matched the church with a family in Iraq, anticipating that the group could immigrate in one to four months.

The church hit a bump in the road when it learned that, because there is no Canadian Visa Office in Iraq, it could take up to 51 months to process the application, which involves an interview, security and medical checks.

“We received an email from Immigration Canada that they were aware of the application and because the family is Syrian, the application is a priority,” said Gladish.

The Canadian government may send a selection mission to Iraq this fall, but “they’re asking the family to be patient,” she said.

Still, it was the church’s goal to help resettle refugees as quickly as possible.

“To this end, RBC (Riverdale Baptist Church) has decided to pursue sponsorship of a second Syrian family while we continue to wait for our first family to be processed,” the church said in an update on its website.

So far, the church has raised $46,000 and has been given an additional $18,500 from the Yukon government, said Gladish.

“Based on the initial budget that we’ve put together, with donations from church and the greater Whitehorse community, the Yukon government and the Canadian government, and also the Canada Child Benefit, based on all of those combined, we’ve calculated that we’re on track to support both those families,” she said.

“We still have a commitment to them (the family from Iraq), and they’re privately sponsored, so we would be responsible for them the whole year.”

Included in the budget are rent, utilities, transportation, education, health care and “everything that you can think of that any family would be required to pay for,” said Gladish.

“We have had some really generous donations, one being bus passes from the City of Whitehorse,” she added.

The church is still looking for a three-bedroom home for the family, ideally somewhere central, because the family won’t have a vehicle.

It is also hoping that a translator will come forward.

“We don’t want to overextend the Arabic-speaking community so we’re also looking for someone with Turkish-speaking skills,” said Gladish.

Though the church is behind the resettlement effort, Gladish said religion played no part in deciding who to sponsor.

“That was one of the decisions that the church membership felt it was very important to stress,” she said.

“It was really important to them that it didn’t matter who it was, just that it was responding to a family in need.”

Of course, the transition to life in Whitehorse won’t be easy, but the personal support provided by local sponsors certainly helps.

The Yukon’s first family of refugees from Syria is proof of that.

“They’re really happy and thankful for everything, they like living here,” said Yukon Cares founder Raquel De Queiroz.

After 5 1/2 months in the territory, the family has experienced its first northern winter and its first midnight sun.

“(The late sunlight) was a big challenge for Ramadan because they’re not supposed to eat or drink anything until the sun goes down,” said De Queiroz, a nurse practitioner.

“It was a very long fast for them but they did it,” she said.

The family went without eating until around 11:00 each night of the month of Ramadan.

The family even went out to the Canada Day parade, braving the tempting aromas that emanated from the food stands.

Though the winter was hard, the family is settling in well, said De Queiroz.

The older girls and adults are taking English classes at the Multicultural Centre.

Some of the younger girls are going to summer camp at the Whitehorse Public Library and the Yukon Wildlife Preserve.

Two of the older boys are working at a local Shoppers Drug Mart, and one of them is training to be a hairdresser.

The kids especially are enjoying life in the Yukon, said De Queiroz. They are happy to be back in the classroom after four years of not being able to go to school.

Yukon Cares and the family will host a gathering at the Copperbelt Railway and Mining Museum from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday to say thank you to the community for their gifts and support. The family will serve cake.

Comments (26)

Up 3 Down 1

Josey Wales on Jul 21, 2016 at 12:59 pm

Good day Mark, if I may?
Your post in reply to the socialist, was brilliant.
I refuse to engage with someone that is cognitively challenged, but your engagement as stated...was brilliant.
Please keep up the good work.

Up 1 Down 5

Moose on Jul 21, 2016 at 12:02 pm


If you go to the Salvation Army and eat there without paying....was that free to you or not? If there is a another term I'm unaware of for receiving something in exchange for nothing, please let me know.

"This is all paid for by donations from people already struggling to pay their own bills" Oh it is? How silly of me. I thought it was mainly from middle class people who are fairly well off and have enough decency to want to help those in need. But I guess you are right... it must all be coming from people scraping to get by on a low wage.

"You seem pretty generous with everyone else's money aren't you?
You must be socialist to have this free, free, free mentality. "

I don't recall mentioning anything for free except food for the homeless. But apparently that is enough to make me a socialist ha ha.
"To tell anyone else to research anything is a cop out of an argument."

That doesn't sound true at all. Go research it and get back to me.

Up 8 Down 6

Mark on Jul 20, 2016 at 9:28 pm

@ Moose.....Free food at Salvation army? Free? Free programs? You probably think there's free medical available for Canadian citizens too.
You are WRONG!
Everything you mention is NOT Free! This is all paid for by donations from people already struggling to pay their own bills.These are all paid by taxes paid by you and me and everyone else. We pay for it all, yet politicians get to look like the generous individuals implementing any and all programs.
You seem pretty generous with everyone else's money aren't you?
You must be socialist to have this free, free, free mentality.
To tell anyone else to research anything is a cop out of an argument. Maybe you should look into Sweden's issues with refugees, or Britain, or the poster child of failure of immigration of refugees...Germany.
Since the refugees need jobs, maybe for everyone of them, we will send one TFW home to the Philipines. Or since they are basically sold slaves politically speaking, we keep them so the homeless can live in the streets and the TFW can enjoy our much needed housing and benefits that WE pay for. Oh yes, everything is free to you isn't it?

Up 11 Down 4

Easy Life on Jul 20, 2016 at 5:02 pm

@Richard, Yeah those refugees have it pretty sweet! All you have to do is go live in Syria with your family for a few years and make it out alive (probably on foot). Then leave everyone you know outside of your immediate family and move to a country where you can't speak a word of the language.....and learn it. Easy peasy!

Up 8 Down 6

Deborah on Jul 20, 2016 at 4:42 pm

Most of the organizations and individuals who sponsor refugees do so as a piece of their outreach - in addition to the other charitable donations, actions and activities within the community and internationally. Most churches have social justice groups who work on different projects such as the annual church-run city-wide food drive and more.

The people who volunteer for one non-profit often volunteer at several, and support many causes that matter to them. We can't all support every cause or action but if all those who could contribute time, energy or other resources did so, we wouldn't be worried about helping this group or that group; there would be enough resources to go around.

I don't know if most of the people commenting so negatively take the time to actively participate in helping others... I would hope so, considering the tenor of the responses. If you help all you can, wonderful. Don't begrudge others helping in the ways they are able and supporting the causes that move them. We could follow their example and feel inspired to act instead of complain.

It's great there is so much concern for the struggling in Whitehorse. Please put your money and time where your mouth is; get out there and do something real to help the homeless and the hungry then; problems need fixers, not a gallery of nay-sayers who just want to point fingers and complain.

Up 5 Down 5

Moose on Jul 20, 2016 at 4:42 pm

@north of 60 and Jack Colby

How very Darwin of you. If there is such a thing as karma, may both of you be the very last to receive pity or help from anyone else in your time of need. After all, you will have DESERVED whatever predicament you might be in and people should just let nature take its course......your theory, not mine.

I also encourage both of you to write letters to the Red Cross and local Churches explaining why helping any human being who is not Canadian is wrong.....that life or death should be determined by your passport.

I don't believe in any kind of heaven.....but should it exist, the two of you sure as hell won't be getting in.

Up 7 Down 4

Moose on Jul 20, 2016 at 4:33 pm

@Josey If you get my statistical approach, you should understand that math doesn't lie. You tried to tell me I'm incorrect by spinning a tale of emotion (fear).

Here is another statistic for you since you think Islam is a hate crime (even though that literally doesn't make sense) there are over 900,000 Muslims in Canada. If they are all such evil people committed to attacking us and taking over, don't you think we would hear about AT LEAST one attack per day? or even one per week? how about one per month? Rather odd don't you think? Feel free to keep attacking me if you can't refute anything I've said though.....wouldn't want you to deviate from your modus operandi.

Disclaimer: I don't like Islam, it is contradictory, hateful and just plain non-sensical - as is Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and every other organized religion out there.

Up 19 Down 14

john henry on Jul 20, 2016 at 3:43 pm

We should be opening our eyes to the homeless that's pouring into Whitehorse not bringing in more.

Up 20 Down 11

Richard Ablanalp on Jul 20, 2016 at 1:28 pm

"Included in the budget are rent, utilities, transportation, education, health care and “everything that you can think of that any family would be required to pay for” AND a 3 bedroom house.

Sure beats my minimum wage job and renting a basement room situation. Can I be the next refugee ?

Up 5 Down 8

Jack Colby on Jul 19, 2016 at 10:48 pm

Moose - July 19
Your first paragraph is so full of holes it is LAUGHABLE.
Your second paragraph is EXACTLY what should happen.

Up 13 Down 10

north_of_60 on Jul 19, 2016 at 5:00 pm


Most so-called 'foreign aid' goes to administrative overhead in the billion dollar business of 'aid organizations' or to local government officials and warlords as bribes. Little, if any, actually gets to those in need. Meddlesome 'do-gooders' actually make the problems worse.

People starve in famines because they've created more population than their region can sustain. Giving them food only ensures they will continue to breed until the next famine happens. People in other parts of the world are not our taxpayer's responsibility. If your hobby is feeding the world's poor then go right ahead, but do it on your own dime.

Up 22 Down 14

Moose on Jul 19, 2016 at 1:43 pm

@Alex Franklin. The homeless people in Whitehorse are given free food, they get it from the Salvation Army or Foodbank. Yes they are in bad shape but it is because of substance abuse problems or mental health problems. They have MANY supports available to them, but we can't force them to take advantage of such programs. The people coming from Syria are mostly middle class with training or education of some sort who simply need a landing pad to get themselves set up here and learn the language before becoming self-sufficient.

If we use your rationale, then we should never help any other country after a disaster because there are homeless people in Canada, we should also let everyone in Africa starve during a famine because there are homeless people in Canada..... etc etc You see?

Up 14 Down 12

Josey Wales on Jul 19, 2016 at 11:38 am

Umm..."Moose"....you can express any delusion you can concoct.
I get your statistical approach to this discussion, but if your suggesting the terror of today is comparable/ less deadly in ideology to bombing raids trying to IRADICATE an ideology based on hate...tossing humans in ovens ...fast forward a few decades (IMHO Islam IS a hate crime)....you moose?
Clearly are cognitively challenged and I disengage with that level.
Say high to Liz at your next love in comrade.

Up 30 Down 17

Alex Franklin on Jul 18, 2016 at 10:14 pm

Every time I spend an hour in downtown Whitehorse 5 or 6 people ask me for money.
Most of them are in bad shape.
Why aren't these people giving them free food, housing and clothing.
Surely they should be at the front of the line.

Up 27 Down 14

Mark on Jul 18, 2016 at 5:51 pm

Oh great!.... I sure hope these sponsors realize that if something goes wrong, they will be held responsible for their part in this charade.

Up 12 Down 18

Moose on Jul 18, 2016 at 5:19 pm

@josey "I know it may upset the dogooders but the world is on fire, fanned by the flames of hate....of everything west...everything 21st Century."

lol! No Josey....no it isn't... you just base your judgement on watching the news or reading conservative fear magazines. There has never been a more peaceful time actually....if you don't believe me, do a little research. All of the terror attacks in the west over the last 10 years wouldn't even come close to one bombing raid in ww2 or even Vietnam. You are more likely to die from moving furniture or getting hit by lightning than in a terror attack. Actually nevermind, go build your bunker out in the bush somewhere to keep you safe from the terrorist boogeyman.

@Earl "We do not want any honour killings in Canada."
No one does.....how is this relevant to the story? Do you think the Syrian refugees coming here are somehow part of the Pakistani or Afghani tribal groups where this occurs most often? Perhaps you should read a book or look at a map sometime.

Up 39 Down 33

Jack Colby on Jul 17, 2016 at 11:44 am

BAHHH - yet another self-serving band-aid that does NOTHING
to solve the real problem

Up 38 Down 26

Mark Sanders on Jul 17, 2016 at 10:39 am

These young people are making a positive impact in town. Yes, many local people are in need, but reaching out to people living in a war torn area is very commendable.

Up 34 Down 23

Mia from Dawson on Jul 16, 2016 at 9:53 pm

With so much turmoil in the world it is refreshing to read about these young people stepping up to the plate and taking the initiative to help a family in need. Excellent! Wish the whiners would put their efforts into helping others, there's lots of organizations that could use volunteers to help others.

Up 34 Down 38

Josey Wales on Jul 16, 2016 at 8:02 am

Yes my heart feels all warm and fuzzy now after reading this.
Good thing we have absolutely no Canuks that need help in these prosperity rich times.
I know it may upset the dogooders but the world is on fire, fanned by the flames of hate....of everything west...everything 21st Century.
What could possibly go wrong?
Fear not folks, God has our 6...I say again, what could possibly happen?
I say if the are still here in 5 years, all that are old enough will get, not earn government employment.
Hopefully they leave those cherished 7th century "values" back in the sand.

Up 53 Down 32

Earl Richards on Jul 16, 2016 at 6:16 am

These Syrian refugees should be sent to oil rich, Arab nations. The Sovereign Wealth Fund of Saudi Arabia is worth over US$761 billion. We do not want any honour killings in Canada.

Up 39 Down 2

Just Say'in on Jul 15, 2016 at 10:59 pm

Picture was a bit misleading at first glance. Where is the picture of the family?

Up 31 Down 21

Stop being so judgey! on Jul 15, 2016 at 10:20 pm

@what about our own. Did you read the 5th paragraph? It's not for anyone to judge anything about anyone, never mind why, what or whom a group or a person chooses to put their money towards. Whitehorse has a lot of money pots that it uses locally. Go ahead and contribute to them if you wish, but don't be so narrow minded about the greater good of 'global citizens', of which you are one.

Up 26 Down 25

Chris on Jul 15, 2016 at 8:29 pm

Good work! Let me make this perfectly clear, I have no religious faith what so ever but I can tell you this much. Personally, my entire faith lays in the energy, vision and compassion of our young people who are inheriting the mess on this earth. Thank you for those young people who are willing embrace a new paradigm for the sake of humanity.
To these young people who are willing to Stand up and do better you will change the world, one person at a time. Keep to your principals in the face of adversity and criticism. I think it would be appropriate to invoke this suitable apothem I remember seeing somewhere. To you group of fine young people I say..... " Illegitimus Non Carborundum"

Up 33 Down 31

This is a good thing on Jul 15, 2016 at 6:11 pm

It is appalling that one might hold up two groups of people, both in need of survival, and say that we can only care for one of them. That we must leave the other group to die.

Canada is one of the wealthiest and most caring countries in the world. If we cannot house both the homeless and the Syrian refugees, no one can, and there is no hope in our world.

Up 79 Down 44

what about our own?? on Jul 15, 2016 at 4:22 pm

This is a nice story but, why not put this initiative, money, energy and time towards families who live down the street, around the corner, in the same city and/or territory as your church?
There are dozens of families who are born and raised or live here already that struggle for safety, food, shelter. I don't get this "feel good" program???

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