Chilliwack group pledging to ‘walk with’ Syrian family for a year

The main obstacle right now is finding an appropriate rental home for the family of refugees that will be coming to Chilliwack

Rev. Karen Medland of Carman United Church says six local churches  have joined forces to sponsor a Syrian family of refugees. They're 'poised' to do it quickly.

Rev. Karen Medland of Carman United Church says six local churches have joined forces to sponsor a Syrian family of refugees. They're 'poised' to do it quickly.

A Syrian refugee family could be arriving in Chilliwack in time for Christmas.

Rev. Karen Medland of Carman United Church says six local churches have joined forces to make it happen, under the aegis of the Eastern Fraser Valley Refugee Committee.

“We’re poised to do this. Things are happening really fast right now,” she told The Progress.

The committee has reps from Carman United, Chilliwack United, Agassiz United, Rosedale United, Mt. Shannon United, and Christ Lutheran.

They have pledged to “walk with a Syrian family” for an entire year — and could be connected with one in as little as 48 hours.

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a family arriving in Chilliwack at Christmas?” she enthused.

Rev. Medland, who is relatively new to Chilliwack, has ample experience from her work at First United Church in Kelowna, where they successfully welcomed the latest Syrian family this summer, sponsoring seven families in total.

“I am an immigrant myself and I know what it is to come to a new country with resources. It was hard for my family to settle in Canada as immigrants.

“But it’s way harder as refugees.”

The Syrian family would be from the initial group of rigorously screened 10,000 refugees that Canada has pledged to take, with a total of 25,000 by the end of 2016.

So why did they decide to join forces as a committee?

“You get a stronger sense of community doing it that way,” Rev. Medland said.

But they’ll also have access to more resources.

They have about $10,400 committed to the cause, with $5,000 from Rosedale United, and another $5,000 from the Toronto Conference.

The main obstacle is finding an appropriate rental home.

“We thought this might be the time to do it, particularly with the horrendous crisis in Syria right now,” she said.

What people don’t realize is the incoming refugees have been traumatized and are languishing in refugees camps under terrible conditions — for years already.

“Make no mistake,” she said. “This is a long-term project. I’ve experienced this. It requires a commitment of time, energy and people.”

They need $14k up front for items like damage deposit, rent, food, utilities, bus passes, and more, followed by the balance of $16k for the first year.

The church-based reps got together last week to go over questions and concerns about sponsorship.

“Although some were concerned about the rhetoric they’re hearing about terrorism, I explained they will have gone through a most thorough and rigorous screening process. I had to reassure them of this.”

She explains the math to illustrate.

“Out of the more than 14 million refugees around the world, according to the UN, only one per cent of them qualify for this program.”

If that doesn’t convince them, she’ll remind anyone that Jesus was a refugee, forced to flee his home and live under terrible conditions.

Refugees coming to Canada will be sponsored through the Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) Program, and will receive income support through the Resettlement Assistance Program, under Citizenship and Immigration Canada for half of their 12-month sponsorship period, or until they become self-sufficient. They will go through five levels of security checks, three by the UNHCR and two by the Government of Canada.

Send or drop off cheques to Carman United marked ‘Refugee Fund’ or call 604-858-3223. The address is 7258 Vedder Road, Chilliwack, V2R 4E4

 

Just Posted

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of June 13

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Madalyn Clempson, 18, of Chilliwack sings ‘Hiney Yamin Ba-im.’ She won the Intermediate Vocal Canadian Music award at the Performing Arts BC Virtual Provincial Festival. (YouTube)
Chilliwack youth bring home awards from provincial performing arts festival

Chilliwack’s 18-year-old Madalyn Clempson ‘a bit stunned’ to have won Intermediate Vocal Canadian Music

These three kittens, seen here on Thursday, June 10, 2021, are just some of many up for adoption at the Chilliwack SPCA. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Find Me My Furever Home – Three kittens at the Chilliwack SPCA

Kittens were in ‘rough shape’ when they came into the Chilliwack SPCA, now ready for adoption

Jacqueline Pearce and Jean-Pierre Antonio received the BC Historical Federation Best Article Award on Saturday for their story about translating haiku written in the Tashme internment camp.
Article chronicling haiku in Japanese internment camp near Hope wins award

Tashme Haiku Club’s work was preserved and recently translated, authors write

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Chilliwack family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read