Member Initiatives in Support of Syrian Refugees
The situation facing Syrian refugees fleeing their war-torn nation has touched Canadians across the country. Many have responded to the call for help, including members of the Order of Canada.
Some, like Mary Jo Leddy, C.M., have long been involved in welcoming refugees and helping them integrate into Canadian society. She is a co-founder of Romero House in Toronto, which provides housing and drop-in services for refugees. Earlier this year, she met with faith groups to share information on the process for sponsoring refugees, encouraging them to focus on offering a warm welcome and connecting refugees to schools, groups and services in the broader community.
In June 2015, Ratna Omidvar, C.M., helped found a citizen-led initiative called Lifeline Syria, a network of residents in the Toronto area committed to sponsoring refugees. As a thought leader on immigration and diversity, she is urging the private sector to be aware of the “refugee gap”, whereby skilled refugees can’t access gainful employment because their language skills in English or French are lacking, or their proof of education and experience were left behind when they fled their home country.
Members of the Order are also helping out in smaller communities. In Nova Scotia, philanthropist Mel Boutilier, C.M., has operated food and furniture banks to help those in need. With the recent closing of one of his thrift stores, he donated a large amount of furniture and supplies to Syrian refugees resettling in Nova Scotia.
If you are interested in helping out, visit www.cic.gc.ca for more information on initiatives in support of refugees.