ORAT, the Office for Refugees’ staff members and volunteers have numerous years of experience helping refugees. The Office’s main focus is the Civic (Private) Refugee Sponsorship Program of the Archdiocese of Toronto, which has been in operation for over 30 years. Just in the last year ORAT submitted applications to bring over 250 refugees to Canada, thanks to the help of parishes and institutions within the Archdiocese participating in the program.
ORAT works to bring refugees from overseas to Canada all the while fostering a sense of community within the Archdiocese, as parishes and religious orders are asked to work together to help newcomers integrate into Canadian society.
Your parish, chaplaincy, chapel, or group can initiate the process to bring a refugee to Canada under one of the following options:
1. Your parish/ group can take full responsibility of a sponsorship. This means you will be there for a refugee (individual or family) for one year from the date of arrival: it includes housing, clothing, food, helping in integration, enrolling them in language classes, the children in schools, teaching them how to do the shopping, helping them to find a family doctor and so on. Basically you may want to consider them as your ‘guests’. Our efforts are successful if in a year they ‘become Canadians’. Beyond upgrading their skills, the main aim is to help them to become financially independent in less than a year by getting them different work opportunities.
Sponsorship is a lot of work. It entails serious commitment and responsibility (time, logistics, emotional support and finances). To sponsor one refugee you have to fundraise about $11.800; to sponsor a family of four you need $26,000 (It might include in-kind donations, like an available apartment, furniture, etc.)
2. Twinning: Team up with an other parish. Some parishes are gifted in fundraising, while others are blessed with volunteers. There is always the possibility of sharing responsibility with another group in order to gather resources faster to sponsor a refugee family.
3. If you have experienced members, your committee can decide to sponsor a high need refugee without financial obligation. In this category the sponsorship liability is covered by the government or secured by community members of the refugee. These refugees need logistical (human resources), technical, moral, spiritual and other integration support ‘only’. It is very similar to the previous types of sponsorships, but your parish/ group will not need to raise a lot of funds; instead of, has to be well prepared to provide extra care for the newcomers, because they may have medical conditions and therefore need more help to settle; other challenges for these types of cases may be large or broken families, people with special needs, no formal education or lack of English, and so on. While other sponsorships are for one year, this category requires a two year commitment. For these cases you need a strong, committed group of experienced volunteers able to meet the challenges.
4. Your committee can offer moral support to a refugee. In some cases both finances and logistics are available, however without moral support and supervision from a parish or constituent group, the sponsorship case can not be processed.
First of all, you need to form a Sponsorship Committee (Constituent Group) and then approach ORAT to take the next steps.
If you are ready to sponsor a refugee, or are willing to assist in the survival, of at least one refugee (for instance, an Iraqi Christian or non Christian) or have any further questions about sponsorship, please contact: 416 645-0827 ext 104
Comments, feedback or complaint about ORAT can be submitted to the Director or to the Advisory Board of ORAT.
(371 Old Kingston Road, Unit A; Toronto, ON M1C 1B7)