The Team Sooke/Juan de Fuca Refugee Sponsorship Group has submitted an application to sponsor a second refugee family in the hopes of providing them with a chance for a better life in Canada.
The family – mom, dad, and three children – are in Cairo, Egypt after escaping a genocide supported by the Sudanese government and a variety of Sudanese militia groups.
The sponsorship stems from the Sooke organization’s initial humanitarian efforts in 2016 when it sponsored a family from Iraq.
“What we learned in our initial sponsorship is that there are people all over the world who are in crisis. Now that the focus has shifted from Syria and refugees from ISIS we looked a little further afield and decided to sponsor a family from one of the regions of ignored crisis,” said Sharon Sterling, one of the driving forces behind the Sooke sponsorship group.
“The family we’ve put forward for sponsorship is this Sudanese family, who simply can’t go home,” said Sterling.
The refugee group is positioned to apply for the second refugee family because its first family became self-sufficient much earlier than expected. After seven months in Canada, they no longer needed the Sooke group’s support and are living happy, productive lives in Canada.
That left the group with some unexpended funds and the opportunity to use those funds as seed money for a second sponsorship.
Sterling admitted her group has heard fears regarding immigrants expressed in the past, particularly when immigrants come from countries in conflict, but she was quick to point out that people’s attitudes generally changed when they met the family and could see them as human beings rather than statistics.
It’s a phenomenon that Jean McRae, the chief executive officer for the Inter-Cultural Association of Victoria has experienced as well.
“The fear of immigrants, particularly those who are black or brown and come from conflict region, has been ginned up south of the border and some of that has leaked into Canada,” McRae said.
“All immigrants go through security and criminality checks, and we know from statistics that they are far less likely to get involved with the criminal justice system than people born in Canada.”
McRae said once the public meets the refugees, the fears tend to evaporate.
The Sooke sponsorship group is working to create a greater understanding of its program, and the challenges facing the proposed immigrant family through two information sessions in April.
The first of these sessions will be held Tuesday, April 9 at 2 p.m. at Rose of Lima Catholic Church, 2191 Townsend Rd., and the second will take place on April 30 at 7: p.m. at Christian Life Assembly, 6851 West Coast Rd.