Communities of Vaudreuil-Dorion and Île-Perrot to sponsor three Syrian families


PHOTO BY AMANDA SHORE

Coordinator of Pastoral Action at St-Patrick of the Island, Anne Coulter; Father Normand Bergeron, Regional Animator, Pastoral Region, Vaudreuil-Dorion-Île-Perrot; Norbert Piché, Country Director Jesuit Refugee Service – Canada; and committee member Martin Bellerose outline the action plan to welcome Syrian refugees to the region.

On Sunday, May 8, The Globe and Mail reported that 61 per cent of Canadians are concerned that their communities don’t have the necessary resources to resettle newly immigrated Syrian refugees. According to the poll, Canadians approve of the Federal government’s response to the Syrian crisis, but feel that the government isn’t doing enough to provide communities with the necessities needed to care for these refugees.

For the communities of Vaudreuil-Dorion and Ile-Perrot, however, this is not an issue as each town has decided to personally reach out and sponsor the immigration and support of three Syrian families seeking refuge.

In November 2015, members from local organizations, municipalities and parishes of Vaudreuil-Dorion and Île-Perrot formed a committee. Their formational goal was to develop a plan to welcome and support Syrian refugees. Following a recommendation from the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) the committee decided to take the sponsorship route.

“We live in one of the best—maybe I should say the best—country in the world. As such, we want to offer others the same opportunities as we have,” said Anne Coulter, committee member and coordinator of pastoral action at St-Patrick of the Island parish.

The three families are made up of three children aged four to 10 and six adults. The committee has submitted the documents for their immigration and are awaiting government approval. When the families arrive, the committee estimates that they will require at least one year of financial assistance in addition to integration and emotional support.

The committee believes that the financial cost of supporting each family for a year will be approximately $25,000 each. Therefore, their goal is to raise $75,000. They are also seeking volunteers to help the families with things such as learning French and English, finding child care services, acquiring the appropriate clothes for the Canadian climate and navigating other necessities of life in Canada.

The committee doesn’t yet know when the families will arrive. In the meantime, they’ve begun their fundraising efforts in earnest.

The first fundraising event will take place this Sunday. The St. Patrick’s Elementary School choir and the Spectrum Voices vocal ensemble will be putting on a concert at St. Patrick of the Island Parish. Tickets are $12 and all proceeds are going to support the sponsorship of the three Syrian families.

In the week following the concert, parishes in the Vaudreuil-Dorion and Île-Perrot community will be selling raffle tickets. The tickets are $50 each and first prize is a $6500 trip to the destination of the winner’s choice. Tickets are available during office hours and the raffle will run until September.

Anyone looking to make a financial contribution can send their donation addressed to the Paroisse Saint-Michel/Parrainage at 414 avenue St-Charles, Vaudreuil-Dorion, QC J7V 2M6. The committee is also looking for someone to donate storage space so they can store furniture for the families until they arrive.

For more information or to volunteer, contact Father Normand Bergeron at (450) 455-4282 or paroissestmichel@videotron.ca

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