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Private refugee sponsorship luncheon brings communities together.

Private refugee sponsorship luncheon brings communities together.

Local community organizations and parishes gathered together at the Chateau Louis in Edmonton for our Making a Difference In this Changing World luncheon on Saturday, February 18, and our CEO Stephen Carattini was the featured guest speaker for the event.

The luncheon, which was organized by our Immigration and Settlement Service ministry, was an opportunity for many individuals, families, and representatives from various organizations to discuss the successes and trials of being a private refugee sponsor, and learning more about  the process of becoming a private sponsor.

 “An event like this is so important,” said Immigration and Settlement Service manager Paulette Johnson.  “It allows active sponsors, and those who would like to become sponsors, the chance to connect with each other, and share their personal experiences with how the private sponsorship process works.”

She also explained how gathering sponsors and prospective sponsors at an event like this one fosters an ongoing conversation on how they can form collaborative partnerships with one another.

 “There are many situations where a particular group or different parishes across the community are ready to lend a helping hand, but are simply unable to do it on their own or believe that you can’t partner with someone else. By gathering members of these community groups and parishes here today, we are able to provide them with more information about how these groups can work with each other and become sponsors together,” Johnson added.

During the event, Stephen took the opportunity to acknowledge the hard work and selflessness of all the private sponsors and community partners in helping the countless numbers of refugees resettle into Canada over the past year.

 “What I want to share with you all today are words of gratitude for the work that each and every parish and community partner has done to help welcome them here in Canada,” Stephen said in his address. “People who have suffered greatly are able to come to Alberta and find a home because of the hard work of parishes and organizations […] have done. For that, I want to say thank you.”

The afternoon’s program included multiple information sessions on private sponsorship, a presentation from sponsored Syrian refugees, and special musical performance from Armine Frangylyan and Veniamin Tomas, who have also resettled in Canada from Armenia and Maldova, respectively.

The luncheon also featured speeches from recently sponsored Syrian refugees, Dr. Muhideen Kutet and Matilda Alber. Both shared their own personal experiences of resettling to Canada through a private sponsor.

According to a recent report released by the Government of Canada, over 14,000 privately sponsored refugees and 21,800 government-assisted refugees have been resettled in Canada as of January 29, 2017.