Whitehorse Daily Star

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Raquel De Queiroz

Yukoners are ready to welcome refugees

There’s still some unpacking to do, but the beds are made, dishes are stacked in the cupboards and towels are in the closet as Yukoners get ready to welcome a family of 10.

By Stephanie Waddell on November 30, 2015

There’s still some unpacking to do, but the beds are made, dishes are stacked in the cupboards and towels are in the closet as Yukoners get ready to welcome a family of 10.

Raquel De Queiroz, who heads up Yukon Cares, said this morning her group spent much of the weekend getting a four-bedroom house ready.

It did so with numerous donations from the community for the family of Syrian refugees it’s sponsoring to come to Canada.

The group has been fundraising since September to sponsor the family.

While the fundraising and collecting of household donations has been underway, the paperwork and formal process has also progressed, with the family recently having had their visa interview with federal authorities.

Following that, Yukon Cares was asked to submit its paperwork to the federal government for the sponsorship.

“That was done and submitted on Friday,” De Queiroz said.

The family must now go through medical and security clearance before they can be approved to come to Canada, she added.

It’s not entirely clear how long that might take. However, De Queiroz said, given the work of the federal government on the refugee crisis, the group is preparing for the family to be in the first group of 10,000 refugees in Canada before the end of the year.

If they aren’t, De Queiroz believes they’ll likely be part of the next group to come in early next year.

“We are prepared for them to be here,” she said. She noted the many donations of furniture, household necessities and clothes that have come in recently to set up the family.

While much of the house was set up over the weekend, the unpacking continues. De Queiroz said the territory has been incredibly generous in donating to the cause.

As the group keeps working to help bring the family of 10 to the territory, De Queiroz said it will also help Riverdale Baptist Church in its efforts to sponsor another refugee family to come to the territory.

“We will be supporting them as well,” she said. She pointed to the group’s Facebook page, gofundme campaign as well as a section on the Yukon government’s web page focused on welcoming refugees.

The church’s pastor, Greg Anderson, said this morning members voted Sunday that they would pursue sponsoring a family of four.

The decision comes after some consideration and some fundraising.

Anderson noted that outside of the “obvious” reasons for sponsoring a refugee family, the church has past experience in sponsoring or helping refugee families in Canada – each of those families going on to make significant contributions to the community.

The local church works with its national organization on the application, a process Anderson said “makes the bureaucratic side simpler.

“They work with the federal government,” he said.

First though, the church will focus on raising $18,500, with the Yukon government committing to matching that funding for both the church and Yukon Cares.

So far, $5,000 has been raised through truffles sold alongside Yukon Cares at local craft fairs.

He pointed out that in some cases, residents were paying $20 for one truffle just to donate to the cause.

Anderson said given the generosity of the Yukon community, he doesn’t think fundraising will be too difficult.

Part of the effort will include distributing pledge forms among parishioners. While they won’t be required to donate right away, the form will be a signed guarantee that they will provide a donation in the future.

Once the church has raised or gotten a commitment for up to $18,500, they will begin working on the application process.

Anderson noted that while the church could sponsor a family of up to four, the national organization will propose who they might sponsor.

And though media attention has been on the plight of Syrian refugees, Anderson noted those living in refugee camps in the Middle East – many who have been there for years – come from a number of countries, and it’s possible the church could end up sponsoring a family that isn’t from Syria.

He noted it’s unclear exactly how long the process could take or just what impact the federal government’s push to bring refugees to Canada may have the process.

Meanwhile, efforts have also begun at Yukon College to bring a student refugee to the territory to study here for one year through a World University Service of Canada program.

Comments (28)

Up 0 Down 0

Syrian on Feb 11, 2016 at 1:13 pm

Thank you Yukon Cares!!
I am a Syrian living now in Russia due to the war.
Very happy that you are sponsoring this family all heartedly.
Regardless of everyone's opinion on this war, most Syrians are only victims now in this war run by super powers, Iran, Turkey and Gulf.
I have lived it right from beginning and seen it quickly turning from request for democracy into an ugly continuous massacre.

Up 3 Down 0

Yukoner18 on Dec 7, 2015 at 12:48 am

@north of 60 I have contributed funds as well as other items to the Yukon Cares group (in this article). Thanks for asking. It would be great if you could also contribute. It takes a lot of people and resources to bring a family in and provide the proper supports. Luckily there are a ton of Yukoners with big hearts....especially around Christmas.

Up 2 Down 0

Yukoner18 on Dec 7, 2015 at 12:39 am

@Max: I can't believe you are honestly defending Assad and calling the people fighting him "Traitorous and bloodthirsty". So the whole Arab Spring fight for democracy is a bad thing in your eyes. Nice. I'm sure Tunisia and Libya would love to have their dictators back.

"Syrian rebels have killed their own countrymen, have committed crimes against their own people, have stolen and destroyed Syrian infrastructure."

Geeze you are wasting no time trying to re-write history! Who is dropping barrel bombs and launching massive artillery attacks on suburbs? Here is a hint....the rebels don't have helicopters and jets and have very little heavy artillery. Assad is responsible for 75% of civilian deaths in Syria including a poison gas attack. Anyone who reads the article here (from one of Britain's main newspapers) will see that there is no truth to your narrative of the rebels being responsible for most of the destruction and Assad being no worse than any other govt: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syrian-government-forces-responsible-for-more-civilian-deaths-than-isis-human-rights-group-claims-a6673956.html

Up 17 Down 8

Max Mack on Dec 4, 2015 at 6:21 am

@Yukoner 18
What does Stalin have to do with Syria or Assad? Or Saddam Hussein in Iraq? But, I'm glad that you brought up Iraq because just look at the absolute chaos and unbelievable suffering that the WEST has caused in that country.

Assad is a murderous dictator? Oh please. Syria is no more brutal than any of the other leaders and governments that the West supports in the Middle East and elsewhere. Spare me your faux moral outrage.

Syrian rebels have killed their own countrymen, have committed crimes against their own people, have stolen and destroyed Syrian infrastructure. You think that these bloodthirsty, traitorous opportunists are innocent lambs?

Up 17 Down 10

north_of_60 on Dec 3, 2015 at 7:14 pm

@Yukoner 18

So, how many refugees are you sponsoring to come live with you? Or is that someone else's responsibility?

Up 22 Down 7

Wayne on Dec 3, 2015 at 5:49 pm

The federal government has said it will fund $1.2 Billion (!) over the next 6 years for Syrian migrants. That is $8,000 per person per year, or $48,000 in total. I'm going to have to live a long time to get this much from the gov't. The senior benefits I get now, I pay taxes on, and have paid for over 50 years.

Up 34 Down 20

Yukoner 18 on Dec 3, 2015 at 1:46 pm

@June: Thanks for proving my point. If I wasn't correct, you wouldn't have responded with such a long outburst. Now that you have admitted you're afraid of them, I think you need to educate yourself on the issue. You will see from basic data that refugees are not responsible for the terrorism you read about in the news everyday and that these people are running for their lives.......not to attack yours. Just remember, education is the key.

Max: "I am deeply concerned that the refugees vetted for placement in Canada will be those who come from the rebels - those that have conspired with foreign nations to overthrow their own government."

Seriously? So if Russians rose up against Stalin, Iraqis against Hussein etc......you would consider them the bad guys?? Conspiring to overthrow Assad, a murderous dictator is a GOOD THING deserving of praise. We are not talking about ISIS we are talking about rebels who started this uprising.

Up 38 Down 21

LD on Dec 3, 2015 at 11:20 am

I volunteer regularly at the soup kitchen and I volunteer at other events that are aimed at helping the homeless. I also spend time and money on making soup for the soup kitchen.

I am happy to see that we are coming together as a community to help a family of Syrian refugees because if I were in their place I would hope someone would reach out to me. That being said I do agree with others - it would be nice to see this new group, Yukon Cares, reach out to families here who need the same things that are being given to this Syrian family. I can understand why Canadians are upset to be seeing these refugees coming in and getting so much when we have so many who could use these funds. Personally I am torn - I want to help Syrian refugees but when you live in a small community like Whitehorse where the homeless problem is right in your face everyday it's hard not to question if as a country we are doing what is best in the interest of Canadians. I honestly don't know the answer - all I know is that I will personally continue to do what I can to help the homeless in our community. I do applaud Raquel for working so hard at something she feels so passionate about.

Up 30 Down 25

Game Changer on Dec 3, 2015 at 9:22 am

I wonder if any Syrians will want to come here? The latest news report says only 5% of Syrians refugees approached by the UN were even interested in coming to Canada by years end. Some Syrian refugees that were moved to small northern towns in Scandinavian countries wouldn't get off the transport buses and insisted on being taken to large urban centers instead.

Up 26 Down 6

Max Mack on Dec 2, 2015 at 11:29 pm

I am conflicted over the Syrian refugee issue. I want to help. But, our country would accomplish more by condemning and sanctioning the nations and individuals that have been funnelling billions of dollars and thousands of tons of weaponry, along with recruiting tens of thousands of jihadists, into the Syrian conflict in an attempt to overthrow the government of Syria.

I am deeply concerned that the refugees vetted for placement in Canada will be those who come from the rebels - those that have conspired with foreign nations to overthrow their own government. Meanwhile, millions of deserving Alawites and Shi'ites have been run out of their own country by the jihadist minions. Where is their refuge?

Up 60 Down 35

I Care on Dec 2, 2015 at 8:45 pm

I am one of many active members of Yukon Cares. For me right now, this humanitarian crisis is the most important issue for me to put my time, money and energy into. Right now, there are people literally freezing to death in refugee camps. There is not enough food to go around. My family donates hundreds of dollars to charitable causes every year. We choose to donate to the issues that we think are the most urgent each year. Sometimes all of the money is donated within Canada, sometimes it is not.

I don't tell other people where they should donate their own time and money. No one has the right to tell me what to do with mine. If I choose to use my own money to help this family pay for their food and rent until they get back onto their feet, that is my own choice.

The federal government does not pay more for refugees than for seniors. That myth has been debunked on the Customs and Immigration Canada website. http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/helpcentre/answer.asp?q=105&t=11

I will also note that when I directed my annual donations to premature babies in India, not one person said to me: "you should only donate to poor people in Canada." And yet, when I want to donate to bring Syrian refugees to safety, most online comments seem to be saying just that. I do feel that this must be coming from a place of fear. Otherwise I truly cannot understand why people should care what I do with my own time and money.

There are over 100 active members of Yukon Cares, and many, many more people who have donated money or goods to welcome this family. I know there is a tonne of local support for this cause, but the opposition seems to be much louder in the comments section. I am certainly hoping that the people who are posting negative comments are gracious enough to treat this family with respect when they arrive. Reading some of these negative comments makes me afraid for the family. They have suffered so much. What they need now is a place where they can feel safe.

Up 21 Down 20

Welcome everyone! on Dec 2, 2015 at 8:21 pm

Good to hear Whitehorse is joining in welcoming those less fortunate and that it doesn't have to be an "either/ or" situation. You can donate to refugees AND your local food bank AND shelters, if you are fortunate enough to have some left over (because of the LUCK you have had in being born when and where you are). If the middle and upper class realize they can live comfortably on less, our little planet becomes a happier healthier community.

Up 60 Down 32

Travis on Dec 2, 2015 at 7:00 pm

Wow, some people really miss the point, don't they? Well, let me help: first, Canada, including the Yukon, have a tremendous social safety net for low-income people. Social assistance. EI. Welfare. Tax Credits. Free medical care. Addiction care. Subsidized housing. List goes on and on. Many, many people are helped by virtue of living in Canada. Sure, a tiny minority have not been able to consistently access support (most with significant psychiatric concerns), and living at or near the canadian poverty line (income about $16K) is hardly living life large, but HELLO? these people from Syria are fleeing a murderous regime and persecution, and when they aren't dodging madmen, they are living on bread and water in broken down homes with dirt floors.
So, enough with this BS about helping Yukon poor - they have it a trillion times better than these refugees. This is not media hysteria - this is really what is happening over there. Second, this is fricking CANADA. We are the one of the main beacons of peace and tolerance and humanitarianism on this Planet. When other nations are pitching in, we are going to tell our global partners, 'aw, to heck with them'? No. We are going to do our part and help 20,000 (out of an estimated 3,000,000 by the way) humans find safety, food and shelter. And I bet any of you that in 2-5 years, 95% of these Syrian adults will have learned to speak English and will be working - contributing - to our economy, while let's face it, a good portion of low-income Yukon people will still be on social assistance or dealing with substance abuse issues (ie. using Canada's social safety net) - not that I am faulting or blaming these people, I can only imagine being in their shoes and waking up each day to hopelessness and abject poverty.
We can, should and will continue to do better to help EVERYONE in Canada at least meet their basic needs for shelter, food, clothing, medical treatment, books, etc ... Come on folks, we're better than this!

Up 31 Down 18

Aaron on Dec 2, 2015 at 4:29 pm

I am a Canadian. At least I think I am. I can't tell anymore. So what tax grab is gonna be taxed to death for this refugee thing. Certainly not the rich can guarantee that. Raise my hand here. I work pt winter ft summer. I can't make ends meet in the winter I have to go on SA to get by on. I am renting shared accom and have lived here for 25 years. Like hmmm so the refugees get houses and like $15,000 to live on. Can't even help Canadians with own housing issues. I might as well live in a tent and die.

Up 42 Down 19

June Jackson on Dec 2, 2015 at 3:28 pm

Yukoner18- you must be 15 years old and never worked or paid taxes. You must have been home schooled and missed a few classes. Am I right huh? Am I right? Oh, and you must spend a lot of time on Face Book snooping around other peoples pages too.

Or, am I just making assumptions like you did? You don't know any of the people who post on this forum, yet you presume to know they are afraid of refugees? That they don't contribute or support their own? You assume they think social programs are a waste of money?

Do you really think that the few who get their pictures in the papers are the holding up the Salvation Army? C.A.R.E.S.? And the rest of the charitable organizations? The bulk of those contributions come from every day people just going about their business and will never be mentioned by name and don't care either. They just give what they can and do what they think has to be done.

It's one thing to voice an opinion, i.e. I want refugee's here because... and quite another to attack and vilify people who disagree with you.
As for people posting their names... did you post yours?

Up 38 Down 3

Rosa Delanor on Dec 2, 2015 at 2:17 pm

Hi Mark. I am not praising the churches, I am quoting what the pastor said with reference to the last line. My question being, just what constitutes a "significant contribution". But, I was trying not to be judgmental and ignorant about it as I can't determine any 'significant contributions' from this group of people.

Up 70 Down 43

Yukoner18 on Dec 1, 2015 at 10:07 pm

@yukonguy, Good point , you are absolutely right! It is the same people who help less fortunate Canadians that are helping the refugees. People who say 'what about the poor amongst us' are the ones you will never see support the salvation army, red cross, food bank etc. Check your facebook account and see for yourself.

Those opposed to the refugees just use the 'what about our poor people' as an excuse. They don't want to admit they are scared of the refugees and think they might be terrorists OR generally see social programs as a waste of money ie Conservatives.

Up 35 Down 47

Mark on Dec 1, 2015 at 6:59 pm

@ Rosa Delanor.....you are praising churches for sponsoring refugees? Yes, the churches do a great job don't they? (sarcasm) They did a great job with Residential Schooling alongside the government, right? The survivors still haven't received an admission or apology from the church did they? The catholic church can't even control their own priests!

Up 127 Down 70

john on Dec 1, 2015 at 3:15 pm

So this family gets a nice newer 4 bedroom house paid for by who I wonder, I hope not our tax dollars, and who owns the house I wonder? When I see friends and neighbours ( Canadians) struggling to make ends meet day to day and their needs ignored because it's not as appealing or as newsworthy as helping strangers. We should be ashamed. A family of ten?? I only have two kids because I can't afford 3.

Up 72 Down 29

yukon56 on Dec 1, 2015 at 12:04 pm

When will the community realize there are those among us who do not want help and are settled into life on the street, free of any ties or responsibilities. They are not looking for a better life, just riding out the path they have chosen.

Up 68 Down 14

north_of_60 on Dec 1, 2015 at 11:35 am

The Syrian refugee situation is a perfect example of the media induced crisis du jour that passes for news these days.

Meanwhile those who truly care about fellow Yukoners in unfortunate circumstances, will continue to donate to the Food Bank and SallyAnn, quietly and without fanfare. We do it to help Yukoners, not for the trendy social media attention it brings.

Up 74 Down 54

Yukon Guy on Nov 30, 2015 at 11:11 pm

What I appreciate is that many of the people who have extended the generosity towards this family (refugees in need) are the same people who we see at the food banks, shelters, donating time/money/energy and effort to helping Yukon's as well. They are people who tirelessly give to help others. Just with a quick scan of the Facebook page Yukon Cares and pics in the papers (these kind people are recognizable as people who give to many causes).

I suspect that the people who have complained about the giving (a choice of those who give) are in many cases people who have not shown the same generosity and (based on hiding their names) probably do ditty squat to help - even the Yukoner's they profess to want to give priority too.

Just saying!

Up 60 Down 20

Rosa Delanor on Nov 30, 2015 at 9:12 pm

Anderson noted that outside of the “obvious” reasons for sponsoring a refugee family, the church has past experience in sponsoring or helping refugee families in Canada – each of those families going on to make significant contributions to the community.

May I ask what is meant by "significant contributions?"

Up 120 Down 65

jc on Nov 30, 2015 at 6:02 pm

Raquel De Queroz is the expert on what Yukoners want? Just asking. By the way, my great great Grandfather and Grandmother came to Canada during the early 19th century. They had nothing and were given nothing. But they worked hard and raised a family of eight children. And none of them went hungry. There was no welfare or soup kitchens back then. These new immigrants get twice as much as a senior citizen who was born here and worked all his/her life to pay into the system.

Up 111 Down 140

Yukoner on Nov 30, 2015 at 4:18 pm

I just love the headlines Yukoners are ready to welcome refugees. No, not all Yukoners, not all Canadians, not all North Americans. There are a lot of people that don't want to welcome them and I hope the star can at least post that fact.

Up 113 Down 99

Local Girl on Nov 30, 2015 at 4:09 pm

While I applaud the generosity of Yukoners towards helping the Syrians, why is this kind of generosity not being extended to local people who need help? There are homeless and low-income families right here in our own backyard. Just saying

Up 81 Down 105

June Jackson on Nov 30, 2015 at 3:34 pm

"Yukoners are ready to welcome refugees"
Right on top of "The number of Yukoner's who are homeless is unknown"

So, Yukoner's have been noted.. but judged unworthy of a home.. and the roof goes to...... a 4 bedroom home you say..

Up 90 Down 74

HappyToHear on Nov 30, 2015 at 3:28 pm

Welcome! Welcome! Welcome! Very happy to hear! I hope all goes well for you folks. We are a small community and I know many of us have large hearts and will help make your new home comfortable!

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