We are thrilled and more than cautiously optimistic to advise you that at long last (well over two years) it appears that our Syrian family of 7 will arrive before the fall, perhaps as soon as June/July! Suddenly the screening process gathered momentum and within two months, they have passed their interviews and medicals, applied for airfare loans and now are waiting for their security clearances before final approval to come to Canada. There are of course no guarantees but we are VERY optimistic and excited about welcoming them to safety and a new home

We are now actively looking for housing for their first year, ideally a 4 bedroom townhouse or apartment. As you know, the family has been living together in a one bedroom apartment for over two years and they prefer to stay together for the first year so they can all get their footings, support each other and have time to figure out their longer range preferred living arrangement. To remind the readers, the family of 7 includes parents (2), married son, daughter-in-law and two children aged 3 and 5 (4) and one single son (1). They will be supported not only by us but very strongly by another son, daughter-in-law and one child aged 2 who are already Canadian citizens. Their assistance will be invaluable during the adjustment period.

The Core Committee is searching, along with the family already here, for accommodation in Riverview Park, Alta Vista, Elmvale Acres or Overbrook. If you know of any townhouses/homes/ apartments that are available and might be suitable please let me know or contact Carole Moult who is leading our housing search (cmoult@sympatico.ca; 613-731-6646). We are also initiating a furniture and furnishings drive. The family will need everything and spring cleaning may be the perfect time to ask people to check inventory of any furniture items, furnishings, kitchen pots and pans, small appliances, linens, towels, lamps, etc., etc., in good condition and ready to be donated. If you have any items that may help, we would be most grateful. Send a list of items you can donate to Lynne Bezanson (mlynneb@bell.net; 613-733-2946. A master list will be kept current and any donors advised if there are too many or too few offerings of any specific items.

As soon as we are certain of the family’s approval and have a reasonable estimate of their arrival, we will rent storage space and will also hire a moving truck to pick up items on a designated date and/or drop-off details (or perhaps we will be most fortunate and be able to move the furniture into their new home immediately). Until then we must ask donors to store their own donations. We recognize this is not ideal but we want to avoid wasting money to the extent possible. All our funds will be needed to support the family’s needs for their first year in Canada.

Some of you will recall that many months ago we organized a meeting of interested community members who wanted to learn more about the project, and who were also interested in becoming active in helping to make it all happen. We compiled a list of volunteers. That is now many moons ago and situations and availability changes so we are revisiting that list and inviting additions to it.

Karin Keyes-Endemann of the ITC Core Committee is reactivating this initiative and looking for people in the community who indicated willingness to be involved and are still available and committed and others who may now be available and willing to give some time to help with resettlement. Karin can be reached at Keystone613@gmail.com.

There is a full spectrum of volunteer opportunities and a full range of time commitments, from driving the members of the family to appointments once in a while to leading a committee. You can pick the level of involvement which suits you.  For your information the 6 committees we are striking are:

  • accommodation;
  • household contents acquisition;
  • transportation and shopping;
  • education and social activities;
  • health (medical and dental); and
  • language and employment.

All sorts of contributions are needed, no matter how small. It will take many of us to respond to the needs of this family of 7! Our commitment to the family is for the first full year of their residency in Canada.

If you are interested in helping our Syrian family, please let Karin know.  By doing so you are not committing specifically to a specific task or a specific amount of time. Meetings will be organized very soon to go over responsibilities, time involved etc. at which time you can decide how much you can realistically commit to.   We are hoping for a team of 4 for each committee.

Please respond directly to Karin and do not hesitate to ask any questions you may have.  Looking forward to hearing from many of you at Keystone613@gmail.com.

We know this has been a very long wait and it has been hard to stay optimistic and motivated. If so for us, imagine for the family! The wait is almost over. More news to come as soon as we have it! Happy Spring and would it not be wonderful to welcome them to Canada in the summer or early fall!!

The ITC Refugee Action Group (It Takes a Community)

Lynne Bezanson, Karin Keyes-Endemann, Alan Landsberg, Marilyn Minnes, Carole Moult, Paul Puritt