WINNIPEG —; A Winnipeg church is giving back and sponsoring a family of refugees to come to Canada but it’s also using the journey as a teaching lesson to educate its parish.
In the next 3 months, a Congolese family of 7 will land in Winnipeg thanks to the support of roughly a dozen families from the Meeting Place.
The decision to sponsor a family came together a few months ago, after the conflict in Syria started making major headlines.
READ MORE: Syrian refugees are arriving in Manitoba, residents opening up homes
“We knew we wanted to do something,” said Kevin O’Coin, the Pastor of community life at the Meeting Place. “When we contacted the organization they asked if we would be open to helping a family from another region. With the Syrian crisis everyone wants to support the Syrians but there are other people, some of whom have the application pending, that are not experiencing that process going forward because others are jumping the queue a bit.”
During last Sunday’s service, the Meeting Place handed out blue leaflets that not only gave an update on the family it is helping to relocate, but included a small quiz.
The refugee quiz, designed by the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba, included just six questions, yet the pastor wasn’t surprised to see how many people couldn’t answer the questions.
“I didn’t know half of these things,” said O’Coin.
The multiple choice quiz questions ranged from asking the average length of stay for people living in refugee camps to the number of newcomers Manitoba has welcomed as permanent residents since 2000.
“A lot of people came up and said they didn’t know,” said O’Coin. “There was some astonishment and recognizing we clearly don’t have any vision of what refugees are going through.”
The family the church has chosen to sponsor has been living in a refugee camp in Tanzania for the past 18 years after fleeing tensions in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
RELATED: Race is on to find housing for Syrian refugees in Manitoba
All 5 of their children (ages 3,7,11,15,18) were born in the camp and know no other life.
“When you actually think to your self, ‘what would it be like for me and my family to experience that kind of length of stay in a place where potentially all of their kids have been born away from their home’ it makes it a bit easier to understand their experiences,” he said.
The church is raising $30,000 to cover not only the cost of the relocation to Winnipeg but to help furnish a place and provide the family with winter clothing to get them on their feet.
Refugee Quiz (Answers below)1. Since 2000, Manitoba has welcomed how many newcomers as permanent residents to Canada?(a) 30,000 (b) 110,000 (c) 150,000 +2. A refugee is a person who can claim refugee status if they:(a) are escaping poverty and famine(b) have a well-founded fear of persecution(c) have been victims of war(d) can return home but refuse3. The average length of stay for people:(a) 5 years (b) 17 years (c) 21 years4. In 2014, the top 4 source countries for people who come as Government Assisted Refugees to Manitoba were:(a) Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Democratic Republic of Congo(b) Eritrea, Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan(c) Somalia, Iraq, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea5. A family who is brought to Canada as Government Assisted Refugees will: (a) start their lives in Canada in debt – a family of 5 would have a $9,000-$10,000 transportation loan to repay to the government(b) have to find work within 2 weeks of coming to Canada(c) will automatically get their Canadian Citizenship after 3 years6. In Canada, we can keep refugee claimants in mandatory detention centres (some of which are former prisons), surrounded by barbed wire, surveillance cameras and guards, where families are seperated – women and children in one wing, fathers in the other.TrueFalse
1. c2. b3. b4.c5. a6. True