Update: Refugees Making Kingston Home
“Some of the first privately sponsored families that arrived have recently celebrated their 1st anniversary in Canada! “
It was just over a year ago that we hosted our Speaker Series on Welcoming the Syrian Refugees. There was incredible community interest in and support for welcoming these new families. We thought you may enjoy an update on what’s happening and who is here, so we asked our friends at Kingston Immigration Partnership to provide us an update. Here’s what they report:
Since November 2015 Canada has welcomed over 39,000 refugees from Syria. Here in Kingston our community has received over 200 refugees, both government assisted (GAR) and privately sponsored (PSR). Most of them are from Syria; some are from Africa.
Amongst the GARS, 27 families have arrived to date, with more expected in the coming months. Family sizes range from 1-8, with an average of 4-5 family members. All have found accommodation except for the three most recent arrivals who are still in the hotel (or hospital in once case). One family left Kingston to join family in Nova Scotia.
Even the children and youth seem to be settling in the school routine! Additional programming was made available at youth groups, parenting workshops, children’s playgroups, and women’s networks as a response to identified gaps.
Some of the first privately sponsored families that arrived have recently celebrated their 1st anniversary in Canada! There have been some success stories with families finding employment, or creating their own small business, but some are still looking. Many are keen on volunteering as they gain experience here in Canada.
Many different organizations have a role in helping refugees settle in their new community: from the sponsor groups to individual schools. Led by Kingston Immigration Partnership (KIP) and supported by an early grant from the Community Foundation, a working group of almost 30 service providers came together to support these newest members of our community. The Refugee Service Providers Group continues to meet regularly to share information and coordinate activities.
The community’s response and support has been tremendous – as a welcoming community, the YMCA has offered a 1 year membership to all refugees; the City of Kingston has strengthened transit support amongst other things; the Kingston Frontenac Public Library offers great resources in Arabic; and all organisations that offer direct and indirect settlement (such as KCHC Immigrant Services, KEYS Job Centre and LINC) have diversified staff and volunteers to offer language support in Arabic.
The Community Refugee Relief Fund continues to operate and review requests for funding for emergency needs on an ongoing basis. This fund was built from community donations and a contribution of $20,000 from the Community Foundation.
In recognition of their collective efforts, this week Family and Children’s Services of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington awarded the 2017 Family Advocacy Award, to the partnership of almost 30 organizations working to support the refugee families, for their work with Kingston Immigration Partnership. Congratulations!