How We Can Help Syrian Refugees

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Last month, the Cowichan Valley welcomed the first Syrian family to our community. It is the start of an anticipated wave of refugees to arrive in our community over the next several months. The Cowichan Intercultural Society (CIS) is leading the community’s response to settling and integrating Cowichan’s newest residents.

We have seen an overwhelming outpouring of support in this community, including lots of questions, such as “how can I help?” We’ve come up with a list of suggestions for you!

What We Offer:

The Cowichan Intercultural Society offers a variety of free professional services to newcomers to Canada. This includes English lessons, settlement counselling, facilitated networking and mentoring, employment related services, and referrals (ex. translations, trauma support and health care).

Where you can help:

1. Make a donation

Cowichan Intercultural Society has established a Refugee Support Fund for our community

• Your donations are eligible for a charitable tax receipt

• The funds will be used to support refugees in our community and to assist sponsoring groups

• For more information, call 250 748 3112

• To donate online, visit https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/cowichan-valley-intercultural-and-immigrant-aid-society/

Secure housing is, perhaps, the greatest need in the community – the Cowichan Valley currently faces low vacancy rates. If you have any leads on permanent housing solutions, please contact the Intercultural Society at 250-748-3112.

2. Volunteer

• take a turn driving newcomers to appointments

• prepare a meal or outing

• be an English language tutor

• be a professional mentor

• help fundraise for refugee supports

• help create a welcoming and inclusive community

3. Sponsor a refugee or refugee family

• Sponsorship is a one-year commitment to fully support the refugee/family

• A decision to sponsor does not mean someone is immediately granted entry into Canada. It can be a slow process. Patience and perseverance are required.

•Contact the Cowichan Intercultural Society to learn more about local refugee/family sponsorship initiatives

• More information through Citizenship and Immigration Canada: www.cic.gc.ca

• Looking for a helpful resource? The Refugee Sponsorship Training Program supports sponsors: http://www.rstp.ca/en/

United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR)

• The UNHCR coordinates global refugee responses, including support for host countries providing assistance to refugees

• www.unhcr.org

4. Lobby the Canadian Government

• Let’s hold our new Prime Minister to account!

Information Session for Community Members: How to Welcome Refugees, Thursday, January 14th, 2016 at 7pm. at the VIU Cowichan Campus, in the lecture theatre.

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