Dear Wonderful GHERKIN Supporters,
The GHERKINS continue to be so appreciative of your active and generous help in our initiative to sponsor a Syrian refugee family.
We continue to prepare for the arrival of a family of six. As many of you know from your efforts to procure household goods and raise funds, a home for the family was established in February. Official word at that time anticipated they would arrive by February 28th. Sadly, this family is among 150 similarly delayed cases.
The lack of information about the cause or expected duration of the delay has made it challenging to make well-informed decisions. In particular, we were loathe to give up the rental home when comparable homes we saw on the market were renting at a higher price.
As it became clear we had no reliable information on anticipated arrival, we took the following steps:
1. We ceased paying rent on the house several months ago, but maintain the right to lease it if the family arrives by September. The house was then retained as an AirBnB over the summer, at no cost to the Gherkins. This has safeguarded the bulk of donations received.
2. We made the sad, but necessary, decision that if no progress is made on the family’s file by mid- August to give up the house and address housing needs when there is more clarity about their arrival.
3. We approached the following decision makers to request better access to information: Elizabeth May, other area MPs, and the Minister of Immigration, Refugees & Citizenship Canada. We also contacted senior federal government staff to press for faster processing and status updates. We understand that Elizabeth May has met with the Minister and regularly requests updates on these stalled cases.
4. We remain in regular contact with staff at the Diocese of British Columbia (our Sponsorship Agreement Holder), who are working hard to obtain information from the federal government and continue to press on behalf of ours and other sponsorship groups.
As we persist in our efforts to access an estimated arrival date, we are committed to ensuring that donations — both of cash and of furnishings and supplies — are managed responsibly and effectively.
Of course, our frustrations pale in comparison to the suffering of refugee families who have been left in the dark after having been told they were soon going to Canada. We managed to speak with the family by phone in April through an interpreter.
With regard to the stalled cases, earlier this month the federal government stated they expected that “a good number of these cases will be finalized in the short term.” By the end of the summer they expect to be better able to “identify which will be refused or further delayed.”
We heard recently that families sponsored by other local groups have been contacted by the Canadian Embassy to confirm their process was underway and that they would be contacted again. We hope this is a positive sign for other sponsored families.
St. Dunstan’s Parish Council has offered to coordinate a Parish-wide letter writing campaign to support our efforts. If no progress occurs soon we would be grateful for your participation on this shared action, as well. Please stay tuned for details…
With our sincere thanks for your ongoing support and good wishes,