The movement to sponsor one or more Syrian families in Prince Rupert is taking flight.
Last week, Kristi and John Farrell and Ray Pederson held a meeting on Jan. 18 to find out who else would be interested in joining them.
More than 30 people showed up to learn about the undertaking.
Pederson discussed a new sponsorship avenue through a Mennonite organization in Abbotsford.
The organization has a memorandum of understanding with the federal government allowing other community groups to resettle refugees under their organization’s commitment.
“We would still be financially responsible people but if anything really went wrong they would hold all that responsibility at a different level. That’s what we think we’re going to do,” Kristi said.
They plan to contact the organization once they find another two members to join their Group of Five — a government term where five Canadian citizens or permanent residents agree to be emotionally and financially responsible to a refugee family for a one-year period. The organization will then help with the process of sorting through the mountain of immigration paperwork.
At the meeting, at least two other people showed interest to join the Group of Five.
“We just need to meet with them and really hash out what the obligations are and what we need to contribute because the Mennonite group was saying you need to have all the money in place up front before you put the application in,” Kristi said.
One of the attendees at the meeting stated she is officially the fourth member of the group. Rhoda Witherly, a notary public for CityWest, has a history of civic duty in the city. She has been on city council, the board of the Port Authority and was a founding member of the transition house.
“I just kind of think that it’s really an unprecedented crisis in the sense that there’s so many people with so little and displaced in such a short period of time. I think we need to step up and help,” Witherly said.
After the first meeting she was positive that Prince Rupert has the resources and the will to sponsor more than one family. She is concerned that only one family coming to the city might feel isolated.
“The one concern I have is language and I’m not sure what language resources we have for Arabic speaking people. You may get a family where one of the members has some English. You may get a family who speaks no English. I think that’s certainly an issue that’s going to have to be dealt with,” Witherly said.
The next step is to organize fundraising. The group and any interested members of the community are welcome to join the weekly Monday meetings at 6:30 p.m. to discuss plans to sponsor a Syrian family.
For more information, contact Kristi at firstname.lastname@example.org.