The Peace Family
We have been asked to help get a family to Canada. The process is quite complicated, but here is an update on where we are at: You'll recall at our last voter's meeting we discussed that we were approached by a couple from a church in Woodbury Minnesota about the possibility of our church assisting the man's brother and family, to come from Canada from Sudan (they are Eritrean and are Christians. There are a husband, wife and two young children who were both born in Sudan). They have not been able to bring them to the US and since they have a relative here in Winnipeg they are asking us to help them. The relative here whose name is Selam, wants to sponsor and be responsible for the family but needs a sponsoring organization.
At that meeting a committee was formed. Pastor Brad, Angie and I met with Selam to learn further details and clarify what our role might be.
She has indicated that she will be responsible for all aspects of the family's needs including housing, registration for services, financial matters etc. Their request is for us to become the sponsoring organization and if we so desire, help out in other ways such as setting up a household, furniture, emotional support and the like. We can help as much or as little as we like. We would be co-sponsors with Selam. Selam is well equipped to do this as she does this for a living, working for Tuxedo Family Resource Centre as an immigration settlement worker.
The committee met and agreed we should ask our church to become a sponsorship agreement holder to assist this family to come to Canada.
There are a number of steps that need to take place and it will take some time.
1. First, we need to apply to become a sponsorship agreement holder (SAH). To be eligible to become a sponsorship agreement holder (SAH), an organization must be incorporated (a legally created organization). The organization must sign a sponsorship agreement with the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.
We can form a partnership with another person or organization and in the agreement, the co-sponsor must agree to help deliver settlement assistance and share the responsibility for supporting the sponsored refugees. In our case, the relative in Winnipeg will be listed as the co-sponsor and has indicated she will be responsible for all facets of the re-location.
2. Once we have completed this part of the paperwork, we submit the application along with a great deal of documentation (articles of incorporation, audited financial statements, etc.) to Refugee and Citizenship Canada. Then we await approval.
3. Once approved we submit the application to sponsor a specific family. There is also a great deal of paperwork involved including a settlement plan outlining who will be responsible for the various aspects of their settlement here. For example, clothing, furniture, living allowance, enrolling children in school, etc. Here we would work closely with Selam and would decide what it is we as a church would like to do.
Approval at this stage can be lengthy. When approved or not, we are notified. If approved, there is a link where we can find processing times and have an idea of the timeframes. Apparently the timeframe can be anywhere from 4 to 12 months or more before the family might arrive.
So your committee is recommending that we proceed to apply to become a sponsorship agreement holder at this point. There are a limited number approved each year as I understand it so there is no guarantee. One step at a time. If we can get to that point where we can help this one family out, we will be able to perhaps help other families. Stay tuned. This is a lengthy process.
(on behalf of the Refugee Committee)