Afghanistan: How many refugees are there and where will they go?
Date posted: December 2, 2021
Thousands of people are scrambling to flee Afghanistan after the Taliban seized back control of the country, almost two decades after they were ousted by a US-led coalition. Experts expect that most new Afghan refugees will flee to neighboring Iran and Pakistan, where hundreds of thousands of Afghans already reside. Click here to read the full article.
The 2021 World Day of Migrants & Refugees
Date Posted: November 26, 2021
The celebration of this year’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR), on Sunday, September 26, is now a happy memory. The words of Pope Francis in the Angelus in St. Peter's Square, in ardent affection and support for migrants, refugees and those who assist them, continue to inspire us.
The video below was created to preserve and share the beautiful highlights of that Day. In addition to the Holy Father’s words, it shows scenes from celebrations of the WDMR in various parts of the world as well as in Rome.
Red Wednesday honours persecuted Christians
Date: November 23, 2021
St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica once again stood up for persecuted Christians — one of dozens of cathedrals around the world illuminated for Red Wednesday. On a night dedicated to modern martyrs, Cardinal Thomas Collins urged Christians to “thank God for the gift of martyrs” and to “imitate them.” Click here to read the full article.
Quarantine Requirements for Privately Sponsored Refugees Q&A
Date Posted: October 25, 2021
Question: When is a PSR newcomer exempt from the requirement to quarantine? Is there any documentation provided to the newcomer in this regard?
Answer: Immigrant Reception & Information Services (IRIS) at Toronto Pearson Airport provide assistance to all Government Assisted Refugees and Privately Sponsored Refugees. Travelers who have been exempt from the mandatory quarantine are given a handout titled “Mandatory Requirements for Fully Vaccinated Travelers without COVID-19 Symptoms Arriving in Canada by Land, Air, or Water.” However, Immigrant Reception & information Services (IRIS) has indicated that they have not seen a lot of resettled refugees (PSRs and GARs) receive this document.
Question: What is the meaning of the circular lime-green ‘PHAC’ sticker that has been placed on a newcomer’s Single Journey Travel Document?
Answer: Immigration Reception & Information Services (IRIS) advised that when the travelers, including resettled refugees, are told they are exempted from quarantine, the CBSA officer will put a lime green circle sticker (printed with PHAC) on their documents, so, they will not need to line up to receive the COVID-19 test at the airport and quarantine. There are security guards checking every passenger’s document before they are permitted to go outside to the public area. Please note that this is the current procedure at the Toronto Pearson Airport.
4th Annual Parish Ministry Conference: October 26 – 30, 2021
Date Posted: October 22, 2021
Important Announcement: Last Day Left to Register for this Event
Meet with the Office for Refugees on Saturday October 30th from 11:30am - 1:00pm and learn how you can be involved in helping refugees
This livestream session will many key questions, including:
The ORAT team will be on hand to present and to answer any questions you might have.
Remember: Only 1 Day remaining to register for this event. Click here to register.
For further information about this event click here.
4th Annual Parish Ministry Conference
Date Posted: October 20, 2021
You’re invited to the 4th Annual Parish Ministry Conference, entitled:
This is a free virtual & interactive conference that will ignite hearts and inspire a more vibrant parish!
If you’ve been craving an opportunity to connect with others serving in parish ministry, to pray together, to learn together, and to be re-energized, you won’t want to miss the upcoming conference taking place on October 26-30.
The Office for Refugees will be presenting on Saturday, October 30th from 11:30AM – 1:00PM. We will be discussing the importance of parishioners being involved in refugee ministry. Please join us and encourage others to join this session to learn more about refugee ministry.
3 Days remaining to register for this event. Click here to register.
For further information about this event click here.
Update on Afghanistan: The Taliban’s Persecution of Religious Minorities
Date Posted: October 12, 2021
Please click on the following link to read Ambassador Callista L. Gingrich’s report on the plight facing religious minorities in Afghanistan.
World Day of Migrants & Refugees – Sunday, September 26, 2021
Date Posted: September 28, 2021
People throughout the Archdiocese of Toronto marked the World Day of Migrants & Refugees on Sunday, September 26, by praying for those have been forced to flee their homeland.
Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, celebrated a special Mass for migrants and refugees on September 26 at 5 p.m. from St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica. You can watch Cardinal Collins' homily for World Day of Migrants and Refugees here.
If you want to learn more about World Day of Migrants & Refugees, this video features the Holy Father inviting every baptized person to feel part of a single Church, a single home, a single family. The video contains the personal testimony of migrants who feel part of this “we” after they were welcomed into a parish.
In another video, Pope Francis asks the Church “to go out into the streets in the existential peripheries to heal those who are wounded and to seek those who are lost,” fearlessly and without discrimination.
During World Day of Migrants & Refugees, we remember in a special way the many Christians who are refugees because of religious persecution. Sadly, one-in-seven Christians around the world experience religious persecution.
Below are a number of resources to help you learn more about the plight of Christians who face persecution because of their faith:
As well, we have included greetings and well wishes from Garnett Genuis, MP for Sherwood Park – Fort Saskatchewan in Alberta. Please click here.
Our Office is Moving (ORAT on the move)
Date Posted: September 17, 2021
Our office is moving its location in early October of this year. We are moving from our present office location at 1220 Yonge Street, to our new location at 830 Bathurst Street, Toronto. Our new office is located just north of Bloor Street on the west side of Bathurst, adjacent to Bathurst Subway Station and St. Peter’s Catholic Church. We are excited about our move and look forward to continuing the important work of coming to the aid of suffering refugees, and assisting with their resettlement to Canada. We will be joined by the Office for Catholic Youth and by some of the staff of the Archdiocese’s Archives Department. While our email address remains the same (email@example.com),the telephone numbers of staff have changed. We will announce our new central telephone number at a later date.
The mailing address of our new office is:
Office for Refugees, Archdiocese of Toronto
830 Bathurst Street, Suite 104
World Day of Migrants & Refugees
Date Posted: September 8, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to present some unique challenges for the Church, as well as for our efforts in planning this year's World Day of Migrants & Refugees event. In response to the pandemic, ORAT has arranged for this year's World Day of Migrants & Refugees, which will take place on Sunday, September 26, 2021, to be celebrated virtually. On that day, Thomas Cardinal Collins, the Archbishop of Toronto, will be the celebrant and homilist at the 5:00 P.M. Mass at St. Michael's Cathedral Basilica. The Mass will be livestreamed and can be viewed by clicking on the following link www.stmichaelscathedral.com/live. Following the livestream, the Mass along with several additional videos will be made available on ORAT's website at www.orat.ca and on ORAT's Facebook page www.facebook.com/ORAT-Office-for-Refugees-Archdiocese-of-Toronto-324051570821. These are intended to draw our attention to the plight of so many who have been displaced from their homes and their homelands. Let us pray for the many who suffer as refugees or as migrants.
Special Program for Afghans Who Assisted Canada
Date Posted: August 30, 2021
In response to the unfolding situation in Afghanistan; Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) initiated a special program to help Afghanis. This program aims to resettle Afghan nationals from within Afghanistan whose employment involved a significant and/or enduring relationship with the Government of Canada, which could be, but is not limited to:
Recently, IRCC has updated the eligibility requirements for this special program. Right now, Afghan nationals do not need to currently be in Afghanistan to apply for this program. If they and/or their family members leave or have left Afghanistan (on or after July 22, 2021), they may still apply if invited to do so, and their application will still be processed under the Government-Assisted Refugees Program.
Applicants do not need to return to Afghanistan to finalize their application or to provide biometrics or have a medical exam.
For more information please click Here .
A Catholic Response to the Afghan Refugee Crisis
Date Posted: August 26, 2021
We were riveted to the images of the Taliban’s speedy takeover of Afghanistan. We have watched the events unfold in disbelief and with great sadness. Many who helped western governments with their work in Afghanistan are now living in great fear as they wait for the expected retribution from the Taliban. Some have managed to flee the country. Others remain, unable to escape.
As a Catholic community, we are moved to pray for those who are suffering. Some, following the example of the Good Samaritan, who demonstrated love for his neighbour by bandaging the wounds and caring for the one robbed and beaten, will respond by coming to their assistance in practical ways.
The Canadian Government has indicated that it wishes to resettle 20,000 Afghan refugees to Canada. It is unknown at this time whether the Canadian Government will reach out to Catholic dioceses across the country, including our own, to ask for our help with this effort. If they do so, I am convinced that the Catholic community will respond with great generosity, as it has in the past with other refugee situations. In the event that we asked to assist, would you prayerfully consider whether you or your parish will join this effort to help the suffering Afghan community?
What changes have been made to the travel restrictions and the entry requirements?
Date Posted: August 4, 2021
Source: Excerpts from RSTP Bulletin dated July 30, 2021
As of August 09, 2021, the 3-night stay at the government authorized hotel will be eliminated for all travellers, including sponsored refugees. Those that do not meet the exemption for fully vaccinated travellers must still quarantine for a minimum of 14 days after arrival at their final destination and complete pre-arrival, on-arrival and Day 8 tests.
Fully vaccinated travellers that meet all the requirements for the exemption continue to be exempt from the quarantine and the Day 8 test requirements and may not need an on-arrival test. However, they must still complete a pre-arrival test, submit a quarantine plan and may be randomly selected to complete an on-arrival test.
Update on Canada’s Travel and Entry Restrictions
Date Posted: July 7, 2021
The following is taken from RSTPs’ Bulletin dated July 2, 2021
Question: What changes did the new Orders in Council make to the travel restrictions and the entry requirements?
Answer: The latest Orders in Council (OICs) came into effect on June 21, 2021. A summary of the relevant changes is below:
There are currently no exemptions for partially vaccinated travellers and fully vaccinated travellers entering Canada before July 05, 2021 still have to comply with the quarantine and Day 8 testing requirements. For more information, please click here.
A new version of ArriveCAN will be released on July 05, 2021 that will enable travellers to provide their proof of vaccination, quarantine and travel information.
Question: Will the changes to the travel restrictions allow more sponsored refugees to enter Canada?
Answer: The changes will enable refugees sponsored under the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) and the Government Assisted Refugees (GAR) programs to enter Canada if their application has been approved and they have a written notice of the approval.
Previously, only those persons whose permanent residence applications were approved on or before March 18, 2020 were able to enter Canada.
However, IRCC and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) will only be able to arrange travel for sponsored refugees if all the below conditions are met:
"Towards an ever wider WE": A Church that reaches out
Date Posted: July 6, 2021
Caring for those who are wounded: this is another step along the way to the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2021. Pope Francis asks the Church “to go out into the streets in the existential peripheries to heal those who are wounded and to seek those who are lost”, fearlessly and without discrimination. Click here to watch the video.
Getting Involved in Refugee Sponsorship
Date Posted: June 30, 2021
Please click here to access a video produced by Immigration Canada, which presents the beauty of refugee resettlement, and some ideas on how to mobilize volunteers to assist in refugee resettlement.
As fighting continues in Mayanmar, thousands take refuge in churches
Date Posted: June 18, 2021
Thousands of people have taken refuge in churches and convents as Myanmar's military continues to fight local resistance forces. Click here to read the full article.
Cardinal Collins on Practical Suggestions for the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Date Posted: June 17, 2021
Cardinal Collins on the Need for the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Date Posted: June 9, 2021
Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, discusses his new pastoral letter, "Heart Speaks to Heart," with Fr. Seamus Hogan, faculty member at St. Augustine's Seminary.
"Towards an even wider WE": One Church, one home, one family
Date Posted: June 4, 2021
In his new video, the Holy Father invites every baptized person to feel part of a single Church, a single home, a single family. The video contains the personal testimony of migrants who feel part of this “we”. Their experience of being welcomed in a parish shows that the dream of Pope Francis can be realized. Please click here to watch the full video.
Fears rise over China's growing crackdown on Christian religious leaders
Date Posted: June 3, 2021
The recent arrest of a Vatican-approved bishop, priests and seminarians in north-central China came as a shocking development, if not surprising, as religious persecution in the communist-led country has continued to intensify under President Xi Jinping. Please click here to read the full article.
Sacred Heart of Jesus - Pastoral Letter & Resources Available
Our work to come to the aid of refugees is inspired by and finds its source in the Sacred Heart of Jesus that is aflame with love for humanity. Cardinal Collins has done considerable work to draw our attention to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Visit www.archtoronto.org/sacredheart to read the letter and to access numerous resources that can be used in the home, school or parish setting.
Two 8-Week Canada Summer Job Positions with ORAT
Date Posted: May 14, 2021
ORAT is pleased to announce that it is currently recruiting for two 8-week Administrative Assistant positions, working with our Outreach and Case Processing teams. The position is open for applicants between the ages of 15-30. It is an 8 week assignment, at 35 hours per week. The remuneration is $16.00 per hour. Further details about the opportunity and position responsibilities can be accessed by clicking here. All those who are interested are asked to send their cover letter and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Global Week of Prayer for China - May 23 to May 30
Date Posted: May 14, 2021
Pope Francis's Message - World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2021
Date Posted: April 22, 2021
We are pleased to inform you that the 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR) will be celebrated on Sunday, 26 September 2021. The theme chosen by the Holy Father, Towards an Ever Wider “We”, echoes his appeal that, in the future, “we will think no longer in terms of ‘them’ and ‘those’, but only ‘us’” (Fratelli Tutti, 35). To journey together towards this year’s WDMR, the Migrants and Refugees Section is once again providing a communication campaign. It begins with Pope Francis’s Message, which pays special attention to the care of the family and the common home in order to bring about an ever more encompassing and welcoming “we”. We invite you to watch the first video: here Pope Francis explains the chosen theme and delves into the sub-theme A “we” as wide as humanity by offering the testimony of those who, living along borders, build bridges where walls try to divide “us”.
Report Finds Most of the World's Population Lives in Countries Where Religious Freedom is Violated
Date Posted: April 22, 2021
In its 15th Report on Religious Freedom in the World, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) warns of severe threats to this fundamental right worldwide. The report has been produced by international Catholic pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), notes that religious freedom is violated severely in one out of every three countries. According to this report-officially presented in Rome and in other major cities around the world today. This fundamental right was not respected in 62 (31.6%) of the world's 196 countries between 2018 and 2020. Marcela Szymanski discusses report findings and sheds light on what concrete things are being done to defend religious freedom around the world.
To watch the full video, please click the following link:
Federal Court of Appeal overturns Safe Third Country ruling
Date Posted: April 20, 2021
For the foreseeable future, asylum seekers at official Canada-U.S. border crossings will be turned back to try their luck in the U.S.
Please click the following link to read the full article:
Canada to Welcome More Yazidi Refugees
Date Posted: April 15, 2021
Minister Mendicino announced a new policy to help more Yazidis and other survivors of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant reunite with their families in Canada. The Yazidis and other groups who survived abuse, torture and even genocide at the hands of ISIL are among the most vulnerable refugees in the world.
Please click the following link to read the full article:
Climate Change and Displaced People
Date Posted: April 6, 2021
The Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development has recently published and presented at a press conference on Wednesday, 31 March 2021, the resource document entitled, Pastoral Orientations on Climate Displaced People. The resource highlights the new challenges posed by climate disruption and displacement and suggests pastoral responses to the global situation and crisis.
The document can be downloaded, in various languages and formats, from the newly created webpage dedicated to climate displaced people, on the Migrants and Refugees Section’s website:
Christ is Risen!
Date Posted: April 6, 2021
Wishing you and your family a very blessed and joyful Easter.
Let us give thanks to Him who has conquered death and who invites us to share in His resurrection.
He is truly Risen! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Date Posted: March 30, 2021
Wishing you and your family a very blessed Holy Week!
Let us continue to pray for one another during moments of hardship and adversity, asking our Risen Lord to comfort us with His Presence in times of sorrow.
When A Pope Comes Home
Date Posted: March 11, 2021
Reporting for Convivium, Susan Korah tells us about Pope Francis’ recent visit to Iraq. Please click the following link to read the full article:
Date Posted: March 4, 2021
ORAT wishes all Christians a blessed and fruitful Lent. May it be a prayerful season of preparing for the great feast of the Church, the Resurrection of Our Lord.
Lent is a season which involves 40-days of preparation for Easter that ends on Holy Thursday, three days before Easter Sunday. During Lent, we recall our baptism and do penance – prayer, fasting and alms-giving as they commemorate the death and resurrection of Christ.
New Travel Restrictions
Date Posted: February 22, 2021
To help prevent the further introduction and transmission of COVID-19 and its new variants, the Government of Canada has introduced additional measures to protect the health and safety of Canadians. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) clients who are currently eligible to travel to Canada, in accordance with the travel restrictions and exemptions, are still able to do so. This includes privately sponsored refugees who received their permanent resident visa prior to March 18, 2020.
Since January 7, 2021, privately sponsored refugees - as is the case with all international travellers - must have a valid negative COVID-19 molecular test result within 72 hours of pre-departure. Pre-departure testing is arranged by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and is paid for by IRCC.
As refugees become ready to travel, we will continue to contact you before any travel arrangements are made, to ensure you are prepared and ready to welcome the refugee newcomers. This includes providing a place where these newcomers can complete their quarantine period. Sponsors must provide IRCC with a copy of the quarantine plan for the refugees they have sponsored before travel will be booked.
We will send you a Notification of Arrival Transmission to share information on upcoming arrivals, generally more than 10 days in advance of arrival. We are also notifying the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and provincial health officials of upcoming arrivals.
Refugees must also provide contact and quarantine information upon and after entry into Canada via ArriveCAN. ArriveCAN information, if not completed before departure, can be provided on arrival in Canada. Assistance from a port of entry service provider organization will be available.
When privately sponsored refugees land in Canada, they will stay in government-authorized accommodation for their first 3 nights while they await the results of the COVID-19 test they are given on arrival. A government-funded resettlement service provider will coordinate the hotel bookings and transportation to the hotel. The hotel will be paid for by IRCC. We ask you to help the refugee newcomers complete the daily check-in requirement on ArriveCAN for the quarantine period. This includes the first few days they are in Canada, but haven’t yet arrived in your community.
Once a negative COVID-19 test result is received, refugees will continue to their final destination, where they will be required to quarantine for the remainder of the 14-day quarantine period, or longer, as required by health authorities in your region. If the refugee is already in the community where they will stay, sponsors will pick the refugees up from the hotel. If further domestic travel is required, sponsors should plan to pick the refugees up at that final destination.
If a positive COVID-19 test result is received, the individuals will be transferred to a PHAC-administered designated quarantine facility in the city where they landed. This will be paid for by the Government of Canada.
We are aware of the importance of keeping families together and we will make every effort to do so during the hotel stay, or if someone tests positive and needs to be transferred to a PHAC facility. Arrangements will also be made for those who require medical treatment during their hotel stay.
The hotel rooms will have WiFi and phones, so you will be able to contact the refugee newcomers. You will not be able to visit the refugee newcomers during the 3-day period or while they are in a quarantine facility, if needed.
To protect everyone’s safety and to ensure that the refugees have taken the appropriate tests and have all the necessary travel documents and quarantine plans, we strongly encourage private sponsors to let the IOM make travel arrangements for resettled refugees.
Toward the end of the quarantine period at their final destination, refugee newcomers are required to take a second COVID-19 test provided by PHAC. The second test is self-administered and instructions will be provided by PHAC on how to take the test and send it back.
Resettled refugees will be required to stay in their place of quarantine until the quarantine period has ended and a negative test result is received.
You can get more information on the new travel requirements from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
Update from Immigration Canada: COVID Testing for Refugees Prior to Travel to Canada
Date Posted: February 2, 2021. Source: RSTP Bulletin January 29, 2021
As of January 07, 2021, all persons travelling to Canada by air that are over the age of 5, including sponsored refugees, are required to test negative for COVID-19 before travelling to Canada. Documentation of a negative laboratory test result must be presented to the airline prior to boarding a flight to Canada. The test must be performed using a COVID-19 molecular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or Loop mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) test and must be taken within 72 hours prior to the traveller’s scheduled departure to Canada. The onus is on the traveller to get a test and provide proof of their test result.
For sponsored refugees, IRCC has a protocol in place with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to provide certain COVID-19 related pre-departure health measures, including testing. In locations where the IOM is assisting with the travel arrangements for refugees and has sufficient medical lab capacity, the IOM will also assist with the logistics for refugees to get tested for COVID-19 pre-departure with no cost to the refugees. After arrival, all persons entering Canada must still complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine. Please click on the following link for further information on the mandatory quarantine requirement: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Travel restrictions, exemptions and advice - Canada.ca.
For more details on the negative COVID-19 test requirement for air travellers, please click on the following links: Pre-departure COVID-19 testing and negative results for air travellers coming to Canada; and COVID-19 Updates - Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP)
FRAUD WARNING for REFUGEES
Date Posted: January 27. 2021
Various frauds have been brought to the attention of the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Office for Refugees (ORAT), making false claims that they are associated with ORAT, and are able to assist refugees resettle to Canada. The scammers’ request is always accompanied with a request for payment from the refugee.
Under no circumstance does ORAT request monies from the refugee! Period!
We have provided an example above of one such fraud where the individual or organization makes use of ORAT's name and logo to extract monies from the refugee, offering the refugee an opportunity to be resettled to Canada at a cost.
How ORAT Works: For the majority of our sponsorships, we work directly with cosponsors who live in Canada and who wish to sponsor their relatives overseas. The financial care and support of the refugee is the cosponsor's sole responsibility. No monies are to come from the refugees themselves! In fact, it is illegal in Canada to do so. The only cost that we ask cosponsors to cover is a $250 administration fee, which we ask of the cosponsor (not the refugee) when the sponsorship application is completed and approved by us for submission to Immigration Canada.
From time to time, ORAT staff travel overseas to meet with refugees with the hope of selecting some that we are able to sponsor. We do not charge the refugee for this. The Catholic Church in Toronto generously funds this work and these sponsorships. No monies come from the refugee! None!
Please note that we have not authorized any individual or organization to represent us, or to work on our behalf. If you are a refugee, please do not trust those who say that they are working for or with ORAT. Be wary of those who approach you, offering you a chance to be resettled to Canada and ask you for money for this privilege. Do not give any money to these individuals. If you become aware of a scam that makes use of ORAT’s name, please notify our office at email@example.com and provide us with as many details as possible.
Persecution of Christians
Date Posted: December 02, 2020
Each year, Aid to the Church in Need organizes an event, known as "Red Wednesday" in many dioceses across Canada. This year's event took place on November 18, 2020. The event is intended to provide an occasion to join together to pray for and make known the tremendous persecution faced by hundreds of millions of Christians in many parts of the world. Sadly western media outlets have little to say about the suffering faced by so many. Please click on the attached link to read a recent article by Susan Korah that was published in Convivium:
Refugee endowment keeps on giving!
Date Posted: October 29, 2020
Please click on the following link to learn more about how endowments can assist the church's work in assisting refugees.
ORAT's General Public Registration is now CLOSED
Date Posted: October 2, 2020
Please note that registration for members of the general public that took place from September 28-30, 2020, is now closed. We received an overwhelming response to the registration, the intent of which was to assist members of the general public who desired to sponsor family members who are in need of refugee resettlement. In total, we received 12,226 registrations. Of these, only 2,798 were valid registrations. Many of the invalid registrations were completed by the refugees themselves, or by cosponsors who did not reside within the Greater Toronto Area.
Of the 2,798 registration, the majority of these were to sponsor Syrians (52.5%) or Eritreans (38.1%). The following table reports by Country of Origin/Citizenship, the number of cases that were registered, and the number of refugees that the registered cases represented.
Given the limited number of refugees that sponsoring organizations like ORAT are able to sponsor, we are unable to assist many of those who registered. To manage this and to be as fair as possible, a random draw will be held in mid-October. All registrants will have an equal chance of being selected.
In the subsequent weeks following the draw, selected registrants will be invited by email to attend an on-line "Introduction to Resettlement" information session. If we find out in 2021 that we are able to submit additional refugee sponsorship cases to Immigration Canada, then we will go down the draw order and select the next batch of registrants to begin work on their cases. Please do NOT email application paperwork to the office, unless invited to do so by ORAT staff.
If you were not contacted by our office, we encourage you to explore other immigration options that may be available, and/or reach out to other Sponsorship Agreement Holders in your community to see if they are able to assist you.
Webinar on Persecuted Christians
Date Posted: September 28, 2020
In preparation for this year's World Day of Migrants and Refugees, and as part of the "Faith in the Public Square" series, the Archdiocese of Toronto hosted a webinar on Christian Persecution. The webinar took take place on Thursday, September 24 at 7:00 PM, and was moderated by Neil McCarthy, Director of Communication for the Archdiocese of Toronto, and included Carl Hetu (Catholic Near East Welfare Association), Marie-Claude Lalonde (Aid to the Church in Need), and Deacon Rudy Ovcjak (Office for Refugees, Archdiocese of Toronto) as panelists.
To view the webinar, simply click on the following link https://youtu.be/_vtFXh49Y_s. Please share this link with your friends and family.
Messages for World Day of Migrants and Refugees
Date Posted: September 27, 2020
The Office of Refugees, Archdiocese of Toronto is pleased to share with you the following video messages, as well as a Mass and a homily from Cardinal Collins, to mark the 106th annual World Day of Migrants and Refugees.
World Day of Migrants & Refugees
Date Posted: September 22, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented some unique challenges for the Church, as well as for our efforts in planning this year's World Day of Migrants & Refugees event. In response to the pandemic, ORAT has arranged for this year's World Day of Migrants & Refugees, which will take place on Sunday, September 27, 2020, to be celebrated virtually. On that day, Thomas Cardinal Collins, the Archbishop of Toronto, will be the celebrant and homilist at the 10:00 AM Mass at St. Michael's Cathedral Basilica. The Mass will be livestreamed and can be viewed by clicking on the following link www.stmichaelscathedral.com/live. Following the livestream, the Mass along with pre-recorded videos from several guest speakers will be made available on ORAT's website at www.orat.ca and on ORAT's Facebook page www.facebook.com/ORAT-Office-for-Refugees-Archdiocese-of-Toronto-324051570821. These are intended to draw our attention to the plight of so many who have been displaced from their homes and their homelands. Let us pray for the many who suffer as refugees or as migrants.
Free Training & Employment Program for Newcomer Women
Date Posted: August 20, 2020
A pilot program funded by Immigration Canada is being launched in Peel to assist newcomer women secure employment in the either the Commercial Cleaning or Institutional Food Service sectors. The pilot will provide, eligible participants, free training and paid work placements for entry-level career opportunities in these sectors. Participants for the pilot will be selected based on their eligibility and their suitability, which includes newcomer women with little or no previous work-experience, minimum education (such as a High School Diploma), currently unemployed or employed in temporary, unskilled work. Please see the attached flyer for further information, on the cleaning program call (416) 475-1814; and for the food service call (416) 428-9748.
Pope Francis message for World Day of Migrants & Refugees "Forced like Jesus Christ to flee"
Date Posted: August 14, 2020
The 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR) will be celebrated on Sunday 27th September 2020.
Today, we invite you to watch the third, newly released video, in which the Holy Father explores the sub-theme "To listen in order to be reconciled". It offers the real-life testimony of an internally displaced person that explains how teamwork and mutual acceptance can create a brighter future and peaceful coexistence between people of different religions.
Pope Francis message for World Day of Migrants & Refugees "Forced like Jesus Christ to flee"
Date Posted: August 06, 2020
Pope Francis remind us on this 106thWorld day of Migrants and Refugees, that we should not look at refugees as numbers around the world, rather as suffering people, if we meet and get to know some families, their stories and the suffering they went through, we will understand , just “Like Jesus Christ, forced to flee”. Please click on the following link to view the video:
Pope Francis message for World Day of Migrants & Refugees "Forced like Jesus Christ to flee"
Date Posted: July 27, 2020
Pope Francis, in his message for the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, focuses on the pastoral care of internally displaced persons who currently number over 41 million worldwide, and whose suffering has been further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Please click on the following link to view the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdN2vFMkqWU
Immigration Canada Resumes Refugee Travel to Canada
Date Posted: July 20, 2020
With Immigration Canada's recent announcement that travel will resume for refugees, the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP) has developed a Resource Kit for refugee sponsors. We ask that all cosponsors and CGs who are expecting the arrival of a refugee to read this document. Immigration Canada will contact sponsors of travel approved refugees to ask if they are ready and able to receive the refugee, and to fulfil the mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement. This resource kit outlines the various things that need to be incorporated into the plan and the need to share this information with the refugee while they are still overseas.
Please click on the following link to access this document:
Preparation for World Day of Migrants & Refugees
Date Posted: July 14, 2020
In preparation for this year's World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which takes place on September 27, 2020, we will be sharing a number of items that explore this year's theme, dedicated to the pastoral care of Internally Displaced People.
Please click on the following link to read Pope Francis's message for the 106th World Day of Migrant and Refugees:
Each year the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) issues a report on displaced persons, including those who are internally displaced within their homeland, and those who have been forced to flee from their homeland. It is a stark reminder for us of the desperate condition that almost 80 million people find themselves in, and how fortunate we are to live in country where we are able to live in peace, and enjoy the many freedoms that we have. Let us remember to pray for those who suffer, and to do what we can to assist them. Please click here to access this report.
Faith-Based Organizations on World Refugee Day 2020: "To know in order to understand"
Date Posted: June 19, 2020
In his 2020 Message, Pope Francis invites all people of faith and goodwill to get to know migrants and refugees and, this year in particular, those who have been forced to flee but have been unable to cross an international border, the internally displaced persons (IDPs). Pope Francis encourages all of us to "know in order to understand" -- personal knowledge is a necessary step towards appreciating the plight of others and making it our own. On World Refugee Day 2020, we wholeheartedly support the Pope's invitation because the plight of IDPs is an often unseen tragedy that the global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated.
Today, there are more than 50.8 million internally displaced persons who have been forced to leave their homes because of conflict, violence or persecution. IDPs live in very difficult situations as they struggle to find safety within their home country or are unable to reach and then cross an international border to seek refugee status. Millions more are IDPs because of natural disasters. As humanitarian organizations and communities, we accompany, serve and involve IDPs around the world and call on policymakers and practitioners to listen to their needs and draw attention to their struggles.
In this time of COVID-19, we have seen this already radically vulnerable group running increased protection risks from their own governments. The profound social and financial crisis brought about by the pandemic could result in the concerns of IDPs receding further into the background. Some of our organizations are advocating for enhanced legal protection, non-discriminatory access to services, respect for their dignity and the enactment of peace building and reconciliation programs for IDPs. By engaging with the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of IDPs and the Global Protection Cluster, which have taken the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the landmark Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, and the UN Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement, we call for renewed attention to the plight of IDPs around the world. "It is important that internally displaced persons not be abandoned in this crisis. I call on States to exercise their sovereign responsibility to protect them based on the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and without diverting from existing delivery of humanitarian assistance", says Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, UN Rapporteur on the human rights of IDPs.
Displacement is about real people, and we must always remember that Jesus was once a displaced person. It is likely that most of us have displacement of some kind in our own family histories. If we engage with present day forcibly displaced persons in our midst, we will know more about the urgency of their predicament. Opening our eyes and mind will lead to a clearer idea of what we need to do to help them.
COVID-19 has stirred us to reflect on the displacement in our own hearts and on the flaws in our economic and political systems. Greed can so easily displace compassion. Deep in our hearts we know that care for others - not exploitation of them - makes us truly human. Mantras like "me and my country first" lack depth and are the products of misguided thinking.
In these uncertain times, Pope Francis exhorts us to be close in order to serve. On World Refugee Day 2020, we call for transformation. We call for eyes and hearts to open to action by recognizing, contemplating, and sharing the life of refugees, IDPs, and migrants. Through them we can see more clearly the truth about ourselves, our societies, and the direction we must follow. We therefore unite our voices with Pope Francis in his 2020 Message: "It is not about statistics, it is about real people! If we encounter them, we will get to know more about them. And knowing their stories, we will be able to understand them."
ORAT's Sponsor Resource Toolbox
Date Posted: June 15, 2020
As part of our continued effort to support sponsors in their work to settle and integrate newcomers to Canada, we have put together a toolbox of information about various aspects of settlement, as well as links to some of the most commonly provided services for newcomers. This information has been compiled into a kit entitled the "Sponsor Resource Toolbox", and is intended to be a quick reference tool for Constituent Groups (CGs) and Cosponsors to locate services for their newcomers. It is our hope that along with the CG Handbook, the Sponsor Resource Toolbox will assist you in the work of settling newcomers within the Archdiocese of Toronto.
The Sponsor Resource Toolbox is a searchable pdf document, and is designed to be as accessible as possible. By simply clicking on the relevant subject matter in the Table of Contents, the user is automatically brought to the corresponding section in the toolbox.
To access this document, visit the "Resources" section on ORAT's website or click on the following link: https://www.archtoronto.org/refugee/Documents/O%20Sponsor%20Resource%20Toolbox%2011-Jun-20.pdf
We hope that you find this toolbox to be a helpful resource in your work to support your newcomer. If you have any feedback and/or suggestions to improve this document, please contact us at (416) 934-3400 x804 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
CG Handbook (NEWLY RELEASED)
Date Posted: May 29, 2020
Thank you to the many people involved in refugee resettlement, who through their tireless efforts have supported refugees sponsored through the Office for Refugees at the Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT).
In an effort to help current and future sponsors, we have developed the Constituent Group (CG) Handbook. In a special way, this resource has been developed to assist CG's who are making use of donated funds and who are sponsoring refugees that ORAT has named through its overseas missions (i.e., Project Hope cases). At the same time, we believe that it is a helpful resource for sponsors who have named their own refugee.
The handbook provides CGs with a framework, principles, best practices and over-arching information on various aspects of refugee sponsorship. It provides CGs with an approach that helps the refugee achieve the best possible outcome and helps to ensure for the long-term sustainability of the Private Sponsorship of Refugees program. The best practices have been gathered from CGs throughout the Archdioceses and from our own experience, having seen what has worked and what has not worked.
To obtain the document, visit the "Resources" section on ORAT's website or click on the following link: https://www.archtoronto.org/refugee/Documents/O%20CG%20Handbook%2028-May-20.pdf.
The document, as a searchable pdf document, is designed to be as accessible as possible. Simply click on the relevant subject matter outlined in the table of contents and you will automatically be brought to that section in the handbook.
It is our hope that this document will be a help for you and assist you in the work of refugee resettlement. Please let us know if you have any feedback and/or suggestions on how to improve the document. You can contact us at (416) 934-3400 x804 or by email at email@example.com
Immigration Canada Update on COVID-19
Date Issued: May 22, 2020
Immigration Canada has recently provided an update to Private Sponsors regarding COVID-19. To access this update, please click on the following link: https://www.archtoronto.org/refugee/Documents/Guidance-IRCC.pdf. This communique is intended to assist sponsors in understanding how refugee cases in process are affected by the current pandemic (COVID-19) and, for refugees already in Canada, how sponsors can continue to fulfill their sponsorship role while also addressing the unique settlement needs of sponsored refugees during this difficult time.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, several Canadian embassies and consulates, and International Organization for Migration (IOM) offices abroad have either reduced their operations or closed their offices temporarily. Sponsors should limit their communications to these offices during this time.
Migration offices currently have differing levels of capacity to process immigration applications, including PSR applications. Interviews are not taking place at this time to ensure the safety and wellbeing of applicants and staff. Applicants will be invited for their interview once it is possible to do so.
Due to the current disruption to normal operations, there may be delays in the processing of applications, regardless of type/category. Specific information on processing times is currently unavailable due to the quickly evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. IRCC will contact sponsors and refugees once further information related to their application(s) is available.
Because of the temporary travel restrictions, IRCC and IOM have cancelled all refugee arrivals until further notice. Information on when travel to Canada may resume is not currently available. IRCC will contact sponsors and refugees with further information once travel arrangements can be made.
Updated information on how COVID-19 is affecting refugee sponsorship to Canada and other immigration programs can be found on IRCC's website at the links below:
Please contact ORAT by phone (416) 943-3400 x804 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have questions about your case.
COVID-19: How to Protect Yourself
Please click on the following link to learn about how you can protect yourself from the COVID-19 virus. Important excerpts from the same website are presented below.
For general, day-to-day activities, there is no need to wear a surgical or N95 mask.
COVID-19 Related Support for Employees, Self-Employed Individuals, and Small Businesses
Please click on the following links to find further information about government programs that are available for employees and self-employed individuals affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
Newcomers who are eligible to receive Employment Insurance (EI) benefits may be able to access this support during their sponsorship period (i.e., first year of arrival to Canada). The receipt of EI benefits during the sponsorship period is comparable to employment earnings and therefore is allowed under the Private Sponsorship or Refugees (PSR) program. EI benefits are not considered the same as receiving social assistance, which newcomers under the PSR program are not allowed to receive during their sponsorship period.
Sponsors may treat EI benefits as employment income, and support may be adjusted if needed. As EI is considered to be earned income, sponsors can make dollar for dollar deductions from the monthly income support they provide for any income received (e.g., Employment Income, EI benefits…) that exceeds 50% of the monthly Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) support.
While cosponsors for family linked cases have this option available to them, we ask that Constituent Groups (CG) who are settling a Project Hope family make this adjustment to funding where possible. This will ensure that donated funds are preserved to enable us to sponsor another refugee family who currently live in dire circumstances.
UPDATED ORAT Action Plan in Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
In response to the extraordinary step taken by the Premier of Ontario to declare a State of Emergency, we have taken the following steps to help contain the spread of COVID-19:
While challenging days lay ahead, it is our hope and prayer that the steps taken will contribute in some small way to mitigating the spread of this virus.
Update on Canada's Response to COVID-19
The Prime Minister announced that Canada will bar entry to all foreign travellers who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents, with certain exceptions. IRCC is working with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to cancel all refugee arrivals in March and April.
Individual notices on flight cancellations are being sent via email over the coming days. The Resettlement Operations Centre – Ottawa (ROC-O) will contact you directly if the refugees you are preparing to receive will not be travelling. However, a limited number of refugees are already in transit and will arrive on March 17 and 18, 2020. Please note that there will be no additional arrivals or new flight bookings after these dates until further notice.
Per the advice of the Public Health Agency of Canada all international travelers arriving in Canada are to follow the guidance published by the Public Health Agency of Canada to:
If they develop a fever, cough or difficulty breathing within 14 days:
Resettlement Assistance Provider Service Provider Organizations and sponsors are advised to assist refugees in seeking and explaining the appropriate services available to them if they develop symptoms.
For questions on Canada's response to COVID-19, please refer to the primary authoritative source of information for all Canadians at the website Canada.ca/coronavirus as well as the COVID-19 Information Line at 1-833-784-4397.
ORAT Action Plan in Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
In response to the evolving coronavirus situation and out of an abundance of caution, we will be taking the following steps to minimize the transmission of the virus:
Should the cheque request not be received in a timely fashion, resulting in insufficient time to process and mail the cheque, we will ask that you arrange for a courier pick-up. To arrange a courier pick-up, please contact any of the couriers listed below:
DHL: Call 1-855-345-7447, then press 1 for pickup;
FedEx: Call 1-800-463-3339, then follow the voice prompts; or
UPS: Call 1-800-742-5877, then press 1 for pickup.
You will notice that the cheque request form has changed, requiring some specific funding information to be included. This change was necessary to ensure that funding is in-line with Immigration Canada requirements. The information needed to complete the form can be obtained by using the Budget Workbook that we have developed. Please click on the following link to access this document Budget Workbook.
While challenging days lay ahead, it is our hope and prayer that the steps taken will contribute in some small way to mitigating the spread of this virus.
ORAT and CRSC's Continued Advocacy Efforts:
Deacon Rudy Ovcjak from the Archdiocese of Toronto's Office for Refugees (ORAT), along with Brian Dwyer and Rabea Allos of the Catholic Refugees Sponsorship Council (CRSC) met with the Honourable Peter Kent, Member of Parliament for Thornhill and the Conservative Immigration Critic, to discuss the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program in Canada. A very productive meeting.
Vatican Releases Anti-Trafficking Resource
Geneva, 22 January 2019 - A new resource aims to inspire Catholics in their ministries both to eliminate human trafficking and to support its survivors.
The Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking were released in January by the Vatican’s Migrants and Refugees Section. The publication provides in-depth insight into the issue of human trafficking, which Pope Francis has called a “crime against humanity.”
Migrant women who survived human trafficking playing soccer at an Italian reception center managed by nuns. © UNHCR/Jordi Matas“One of the darkest aspects of contemporary history,” states the new publication, “human trafficking victimizes millions of people all over the world.” Amongst its victims are the most vulnerable in society, including women, children, the disabled, the poorest and those who come from difficult family and social situations.
Human trafficking takes different forms, including sexual exploitation, forced marriage, slave labor, servitude, forced begging, organ-harvesting and reproductive exploitation among others.
Examining ten dimensions of this complex phenomenon as defined by international law, the new resource outlines a framework for the Church to respond. Its ten chapters explore the causes of human trafficking and why it persists today. They also examine how it operates and why it remains hidden from public view.
In the document’s preface, Frs. Fabio Baggio and Michael Czerny, Undersecretaries of the Migration and Refugees Section, explain that the publication aims to “motivate and sustain the much-needed long-term struggle” to eradicate human trafficking.
The new resource responds to Pope Francis’ declaration that “the Catholic Church intends to intervene in every phase of the trafficking of human beings.” Its development took six months of church-wide consultation with leadership, scholars and organizations working in the field.
Invited by the Vatican’s Migrants and Refugees Section, the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) contributed insights for the development of the resource based on its past and present experience in responding to survivors of trafficking and of sexual and gender-based violence.
“ICMC and our national member organizations in many countries are committed to serve those who have been subjected to such abuse and to take strong action to eliminate these crimes. The Vatican resource will help us to become more effective in our efforts,” says ICMC Secretary General Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo.
Frs. Baggio and Czerny note that the publication’s guidelines are “deeply grounded in the Church’s reflection and teaching and its longstanding practical experience responding to the needs of men, women, boys and girls caught up in human trafficking and in slavery, both past and present.”
They hope the new resource will motivate and inspire the Church’s anti-trafficking ministries in dioceses, parishes, religious congregations, schools, universities and other organizations. The guidelines will also be useful as key messages for use in pastoral and educational work.
Cheque Requisition Form
Throughout the years ORAT has made several changes to the Cheque Requisition Form, which is used by Cosponsors and Constituent Groups alike to access monies that they have deposited with the Archdiocese of Toronto for the settlement of their newcomer. Unfortunately, many cosponsors and Constituent Groups are making use of older and out-of-date forms. This has introduced an unnecessary level of complexity into the process.
As such, we are asking that all Cosponsors and Constituent Groups use the current Cheque Requisition Form that is available on our website. Please click on the following link to access this document Resettlement funds deposit release - public.
For those that are accessing Project Hope funds, we would ask that you make use of the Project Hope Cheque Requisition Form, which is also available on our website at Resettlement funds deposit release - Project Hope
Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.