Photo by Whitehorse Star
Raquel De Queiroz
Photo by Whitehorse Star
Raquel De Queiroz
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.
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