Request for Refugee Profile form and mailed it in to the Central Processing Office in Winnipeg on September 9. Told that we were supposed to hear back within 30 days, we braced ourselves for an 11-month wait. We heard back on October 6 from the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program in Scarborough (Scarborough? ok!) that our file had been forwarded there to help us with the matching.
RSTP walked us through a webinar on sponsorship and invited us to choose a line from an anonymized spreadsheet of refugees needing aid. The spreadsheet was somewhat heart-stopping: a long list of family sizes, this time all in Lebanon, many of them with the notation that someone in the family had a medical condition. As a group, we'd agreed to take a family of five, so we picked the first family of five we saw, and waited for their file. On October 14 we got two anonymized files to choose from: a family of four (where did they come from?), and the family of five we'd picked, which turned out to have a catch. It was the file of a single mom with four children, but she also had an adult son who was a principal applicant in his own right, so he was a separate file, linked by a request to be settled together with his mother and siblings. Who could resist that? RSTP forwarded our choice back to Winnipeg, and we got the private identifying details from these two files (names, dates of birth) on October 30. With this information we were in position to file an Application/Undertaking to Sponsor for each of our files, together with a stack of other exciting forms, like the Settlement Plan, and the inevitable Checklist that asks you to confirm that you have submitted all the documents, including that very Checklist itself (the forms and instructions are described in loving detail in the Canadian government guide to this, with extra tips in the RSTP guide).
|Syrian Refugees at a Camp in Lebanon (yes, that's snow)|
RSTP told us that we could go ahead either as a Group of 5, or in partnership with a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (or SAH, pronounced "saw"). One key advantage of the SAH route is that they can manage the funds raised by groups, establishing a donation account and issuing tax receipts. We chose Humanity First, an almost exclusively volunteer-run charity in Vaughan. When they're not too busy running their foodbank, clean water, disaster relief and orphan care programs, they squeeze in a little time for refugees. They were great with us, responding immediately to an email and setting up an appointment to review our papers and take us on as a constituent group. (Note: you fill out a different version of the forms as a constituent group vs G5 -- if you are just getting started, start with a date with your SAH, because that way you'll know which paperwork is going to work.) Humanity First went over our forms (on a Sunday afternoon, after we emailed them on Saturday), and got our signed and approved papers out the door to Winnipeg on November 11, exactly 9 weeks after we mailed our initial request. We've heard that Winnipeg is super at the next step, clearing applications within a week, and then after that the word goes over to Beirut to get the family booked on a flight to Toronto. Everyone keeps asking when they will come, and we don't know yet, but we are supposed to get 10 days' notice.
Now we just face the terror of finding and furnishing an affordable apartment in Toronto. Any leads, let us know... .