For most of us, as the dark days of winter give way to the promise of spring: we share a sense of hope, returning light, and much to look forward to in the earth returning to life. It is in our hearts to share this hope. The Galiano Refugee Project continues to meet and organize with the goal of eventually supporting a refugee or refugee family, and to share the light and life we are so richly blessed with.
Early February saw the coming together of a core group of some twenty concerned individuals to reaffirm the intent and direction of the project and further plan its implementation. Four key questions were the focus of group discussions:
–What are the newcomers expected to do in their first year?
–How can the newcomers’ cultural needs be met?
–What if the newcomers decide to move off island?
–What is our role in teaching the newcomers about money management for Galiano/Canadian life?
There are so many “unknowns” that giving definitive answers to any of the above questions is a challenge. The refugee(s) could come from any part of the world–any language group–but what they have in common is a life experience that has been torn apart by events beyond their control and a need to pick up the pieces and establish themselves in a new situation. Our group’s response requires us to be sensitive to not only their needs, but their experience and their strengths, and to take into account their own sense of direction in this experience while offering support and mentorship.
Helping “Constituent Groups” such as ours, the Anglican Diocese of BC offers what is called “Module Training” in two parts. Meeting in Victoria, some seventy-five attendees from the Vancouver Island and area (representing 40 different Constituent Groups) shared their experiences to date in the sponsorship process. They learned about the details of the Private Sponsorship program and processes, including constituent groups linked to parishes and different types of sponsorships. They also discussed how to create a “Settlement Plan” and budget, and financial models for supporting newcomers. And they shared sponsorship experiences in the day-long workshop, including discussion of cultural adjustment, and the issue of trauma and mental health.
There are still unanswered questions as the group moves forward and continues to make the goal of sponsorship a reality. While we share many of the same experiences and conditions with other sponsorship groups, each situation is unique in some way, and we are encouraged to see our uniqueness as a strength rather than a hindrance to success.
To keep up to date on developments, go to Facebook and see the new page: GalianoRefugeeProject. There will be updates, photos and contact information, and a chance to get involved as we continue to organize along with other area communities, such as Pender Island. There has already been excellent financial support through the pledge program, but we need to continue to reach the goal. To pledge financial support, please contact Sylvie Beauregard at firstname.lastname@example.org. And stay tuned for more updates as the light continues to grow.
by Bruce Dolsen
Our challenge, then, will be completely different than Europe’s. Don’t look to Cologne and shudder. Look instead to the alienated suburbs of Paris and Brussels, where the children of Muslim immigrants were allowed to grow up as angry outsiders within French and Belgian society.