Why Canadian leaders are heading to the UK to inspire communities to resettle vulnerable refugee families

In News by MIIC

At a time when many people feel powerless to act against the refugee crisis, next week a group of Canadian ministers, government officials and civil society leaders will be joining a UK wide roadshow to motivate and inspire communities to help resettle vulnerable refugee families.

The roadshow, hosted by The Good Faith Partnership, Social Finance, the Home Office, Canadian Government as well as a host of local churches, faith groups and civil society organisations will provide a special opportunity to hear the life-changing, community-transforming stories of sponsorship from Canada and the UK.

The community sponsorship scheme in Canada started in 1979, when the Mayor of Ottawa, Marion Dewar, was shocked by scenes of men, women and children in peril on the sea. She wasted little time in confronting the Canadian Immigration Minister on her country’s response to the Vietnamese Boat crisis. Having already committed to resettle four thousand refugees, the minister conceded that he could take a further four thousand if only he had somewhere to put them. Marion Dewar declared, ‘We’ll take the other four’. In the next three years churches and community groups in Ottawa resettled more than four thousand refugees. To date, Canadian communities and citizens have resettled almost 288,000 refugees.

Following the Canadian experience, in 2016 the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd launched the UK’s Community Sponsorship Scheme. The first family of refugees resettled under the scheme was welcomed to the UK by the Archbishop of Canterbury in July 2016. So far families have been welcomed by Anglicans, Catholics and Salvationists, with more than 50 congregations from the widest possible array of denominations and networks now seeking to join the scheme. Communities across the UK are already seeing how welcoming a refugee family into their local area can transform lives.

As Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, says: ‘I believe that we are witnessing the beginning of a movement that will change lives from across the world and communities throughout our country. I can only commend churches in every village, city and town to get on board.’

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