Month: December 2016

Finding Refuge in Canada: A Syrian Resettlement Story

The Honourable Jim Munson was the chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights along with the co-chair the Honourable Salma Ataullahjan. In December the Senate published their report on the Syrian resettlement issue in Canada. The report clearly stated that “the Government of Canada is not allocating enough resources to help them integrate”.

The report expresses concerns that when refugees arrive in Canada they are already in debt that need to be paid with interest within certain time limits. In addition it mentions that the Canadian Child Benefit needs to be available much quicker to these families.

The ability to communicate in English or French is vital to survival in Canada and the report suggests that Canada should be providing more funds to support English language classes for refugees. Furthermore the report goes on to highlight the fact that the youth need further programs to help them integrate quicker into Canada.

Many refugees come from a land of war. It is vital, the report says, that Canada offer special mental health and other social services to enable the refugees to feel more settled here in Canada. The report also describes situations of domestic and gender-based violence in society. It is recommended that the Government develop ways that these can be addressed.

Moreover, many refugees come to Canada with the hope that some of their relatives who are still in Syria can be settled in Canada. The Government needs to develop ways and means to help resolve this issue as well.

This report is well worth the time to read. You can read the full document by clicking here: A Syrian Resettlement Story



St. Nicholas, the first Santa Claus, is or could/should be the patron saint of all sponsors of refugees. The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church. There are many accounts of St. Nicholas helping the poor and especially the children. These stories help us understand his extraordinary character and why he is so beloved and revered as protector and helper of those in

Those who sponsor refugees are just like St. Nicholas. They go out of their way to provide the basic necessities to refugees – food, shelter, clothing and love. It is time we honour and be thankful to all the sponsors of refugees. Their dedication, time and talents have helped thousands of refugees to enjoy a better life.

Here is a short prayer you can say to invoke the blessing of St. Nicholas:

Saint Nicholas, glorious Confessor of Christ, assist us in your loving kindness.


On Saturday November 26, 2016 at Marylake Shrine in King City Ontario a very enthusiastic  and committed group of people sat down to discuss the refugee situation in Canada and the world. The workshop was organized by the Canadian Augustinian Centre for Social Justice and the Catholic Refugee Sponsors’ Council (CRSC).

The meeting was chaired by Brian Dwyer the Director of the Augustinian Centre for Social Justice and the chair of the CRSC. The special guest presenters included Fr. Emeka Obiezu, former representative of the Augustinians to the United Nations and Rev. Bob Dueweke, the present Augustinian rep to the United Nations.

Fr. Dueweke provided the group with an overview of the role and work of the Augustinians at the UN. He pointed to the constitution of the Augustinian Order declaring that there is a social commitment to “clearly identify and resolve issues such as: defense of life, human rights, the situation of migrants and the dignity of women; to protect justice and peace at the United Nations”.

Following this discussion, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) was presented by Fr. Obiezu and Fr. Dueweke. The SDG’s were promulgated by the UN in September 2015. There are 17 goals with specific targets for each goal. Examples of some of these goals are: no poverty, quality education, clean water, decent work, reduced inequalities, climate action, peace and justice and partnerships.

Please read more about the SDG’s here: SDG’s

What followed next was a discussion of the “United Nations Summit Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants” held in New York on September 19, 2016. Canada was represented by the Prime Minister, some Cabinet members and other officials. Many people from local NGO’s and civil society were also invited. The Canadian Augustinian Centre for Social Justice was invited but was unable to attend. The summit included “round tables” attended by many members of civil society, governments and businesses.

The result of this summit is “The New York Declaration”. This document was distributed to the participants for discussion. Each country participating at the summit committed to following these declarations. A summary of the declaration is available here: New York Declaration

The declaration includes the following commitments: protection of human rights of migrants and refugees, education of children, protection against violence, recognizing the positive contributions of refugees and migrants, implementing a comprehensive refugee response program and many more.

The summit agreed that there be an international conference on the adoption of a global compact for safe migration in 2018. The CRSC and the Augustinian Centre will follow this process closely.

The next speaker was Rabea Allos from the CRSC. He spoke about the Canadian “Government Assisted Refugees” Program (GAR).  He made the point that settlement of refugees in Canada is handled most efficiently and productively by private sponsors and not the GAR. The CRSC will be advocating to the Government to slowly decrease their GAR program and offer more support to private sponsorships.

At the conclusion of this informative and inspiring workshop, the participants were grateful for the new information and were motivated to help and support the Augustinian Centre and the CRSC. There will be follow-ups from the summit in New York, and from the Marylake Shrine Monastery.

You can see more about this workshop by clicking on “Activities” at the top of this page, along with some pictures.