ITC (It Takes a Community) Refugee Action Group: an update December, 2016

The holiday season is upon us and what better time than this to give you our very good fund raising news in support of the Syrian refugee family we are sponsoring. Our goal was to raise $30,000.00 which, combined with the Emmanuel United Church donation of $25,000.00 would put us in a very strong position to sponsor the Atieh family of seven for the first full year of their settlement in Canada.

We have worked hard and in addition to individual donations, we have hosted fund raisers and received unexpected support from a neighboring community association. We have now raised a grand total of $56,600.00! We are thrilled as I am sure you will be as well. Thank you once again for helping us reach and exceed our goal.

The not so wonderful news is that our application did not make it to the front of the queue when there were still extra immigration officials in place to screen applications. Therefore, the approval process is taking longer than we had hoped. We are now told that we can expect our family to arrive in spring 2017. We remain cautiously optimistic.

There are a few things we can continue to do while we are waiting and I offer these for your consideration:

  • IF you have access to storage space or a contact who might donate storage space, please do let us know. It would need to be in Ottawa of course;
  • If you have household goods, furniture, furnishings, beds, linens, kitchen equipment, clothing and you can store it yourself, please try to put it aside so it will be quickly accessible when the time comes. We have heard many stories of groups getting as little as a few days or two weeks’ notice of arrival so the more that is at the ready the better;
  • Help support the family through the winter in Beirut until their application is approved. They are currently living in a one bedroom apartment in Beirut with no refugee support and they are not allowed to work so daily life is very challenging. There is one brother, his wife and infant daughter already in Ottawa. They are sending money, when they can, to help them and at our various fund raisers we have asked people to donate small amounts they have on their person. Every tiny bit helps. Many of us can spare an additional $10.00 of $20.00 even if we have already donated. Multiplied by one or two hundred generous hearts and we would have sufficient to help them through until spring. These small donations will be sent directly to the family and therefore are not eligible for charitable receipts. So, if it is in your family’s tradition to donate to a good cause over the holidays, perhaps you could consider a small donation to our Syrian family as part of your Christmas giving. Send any donation to my attention: Lynne Bezanson, 1601 Balena Avenue, Ottawa, K1G 0X1 or better still, make a donation on our website at Should you go up on the website you will note that very few people has used that means of donating as no charitable receipts can be issued but it is a perfect vehicle for small donations;

Many have been most generous over the last year and it is greatly appreciated by us and by the Atieh family. We are where we are because of you. It does take a community and we sincerely thank you. Updates will be sent out when we have breaking news. In the meantime, we wish you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, good holidays to all and time to count our blessings.

Warm wishes from the ITC Refugee Action Group, Emmanuel United Church, Riverview Park Community Association and the Atieh Family.

Don’t hesitate to contact Lynne Bezanson, Chair of ITC Refugee Action Group for more information: or 613-733-2946.