This will be quick, because it's late at night, and it's been a long day: our sponsored family arrived in Canada this afternoon, and are now at home in their new apartment. A long day for us, but a much longer one for them, waking up in Lebanon and traveling through Jordan and then on to Toronto, a city they had never imagined living in, a city whose name they were just learning to pronounce. We are working on the old Torontonian thing of taking it down to 2 syllables: "Tranna". Tomorrow we can work on the new Torontonian thing of calling it the 6. (And the winner in the category "Best name of a Canadian refugee Sponsorship Group" is: Syria to the 6.)
Saturday, December 19, 2015
Sunday, December 6, 2015
Previous landlord: a tent? Multi-page rental application forms are never terrific fun to fill out, and working on behalf of a family of six with no local credit history really takes things up a notch. Nevertheless there was some sporting fun in checking out the various prospects, and discovering that we were scared of some places, and other places were scared of us. Toronto apartments, it turns out, aren't very plentiful, and aren't very big: you need to be ready to pounce at the beginning of the month when departing tenants give notice, and for six people, you need to seek out the elusive three-bedroom, or its perhaps mythical cousin, the two-bedroom not capped at five occupants. Many rules about signatures, credit history and occupancy stand between refugees and housing that will work for them, and private sponsors may find themselves enjoying the samurai challenge of seeking out those soft spots where these rules have some flex.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Friday, November 13, 2015
Thursday, November 12, 2015
If social media is good for anything other than Drake Parody Videos, it's good for bringing people together who unexpectedly share interests and concerns. Our group started with a facebook post at the beginning of September, 2015, amid a wave of stories about the desperation of refugees fleeing Syria. A somewhat random group of Toronto co-workers, relatives, neighbours and friends got together on September 6 to talk about what we could do locally, and we decided to try rolling out the welcome mat of Canada's Private Sponsorship of Refugees program. Launched in 1979, this program has apparently brought over 225,000 refugees to Canada over the years. Any group of 5+ Canadian citizens or permanent residents can play. We'll tell the story here in case you're thinking of doing this as well (or in case you're outside Canada and wondering how it works, and whether you could get a system like this started where you are).