The Syrian Refugee crisis has touched many hearts across the world, and Mississippi Mills is no exception.
On Sunday afternoon, September 13, 2015, on short notice, people from across Mississippi Mills gathered in our home to talk about how our community could respond to this humanitarian catastrophe. The pervasive sentiment was that we all felt an urgency to “do something” locally, to connect with others within our community, to take action to save lives and offer hope to Syrian refugee families.
It was clear that more information is needed on approaches (e.g. government vs private sponsorship), potential new programs (e.g. mass migration strategies), fundraising, settlement support (e.g. accommodation, language services, work, medical services) and many other aspects. While we recognized that there is need to address refugee challenges throughout the world, we agreed our community could best contribute by focussing our energies on bringing a small (possibly 5 family) Syrian refugee group to Mississippi Mills.
As a result the attendees decided to establish the Syrian Refugee Committee of Mississippi Mills (SRCMM), whose purpose is to create a community-based response to local refugee sponsorship and settlement. Specifically, the SRCMM’s objective is to sponsor and settle — with engagement from all levels of government — several Syrian refugee families to the Mississippi Mils area.
It was encouraging to discover that one Syrian refugee has already successfully been brought to our community. Several sponsorship applications are also in process, reinforcing the conclusion that providing a community-level structure is essential for sharing information about refugee sponsor applications. Beyond that there are the challenges of welcoming and settlement services, as well as for sustained support post-immigration.
The group will be formalizing its communications approach in the next few weeks and will continue to invite involvement from the community. All are welcome to attend the next meeting on Wednesday September 30, 2015 at 7:00 pm to be held at the Almonte Presbyterian Church facility. Please feel free to email us to offer help or request information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arnie Francis and Ingrid Kadoke
Syrian Refugee Committee of Mississippi Mills