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(Posted 10:30 a.m., Dec. 8)
Local agencies preparing for arrival of first Syrian refugees

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Syrian refugees An estimated 1,500 Syrian refugees will soon be arriving in Ottawa. Getty Images

Local agencies are busy preparing to welcome the first wave of Syrian refugees as part of Canada’s effort to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year.

Two information sessions on sponsoring refugee families were held at the Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Complex on Saturday bringing together church groups, local service clubs, and private residents interested in sponsoring the new arrivals.

Sponsors must agree to take responsibility for the refugees for a year after they arrive in Canada, providing shelter, food, clothing and other necessities as well as help in adjusting to a new country.

The sessions were organized by Refugee 613, in partnership with the Coalition in Ottawa for Refugees and the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program.

Refugee 613 was created by the City of Ottawa in October to co-ordinate refugee resettlement efforts. Their first priority has been to locate housing for the new arrivals. To that end the organization has created a central housing matching service for people to offer up space in their homes.

Although the first influx of refugees will primarily be settled in Montreal and Toronto, at least 1,500 will end up in Ottawa where they will receive support from sponsors who have already registered withe the relocation program.

One of the organizations that will be at the forefront of welcoming the new arrivals is the Catholic Centre for Immigrants, where officials are taking names of people who want to do everything from driving people to appointments to helping the newcomers learn English.

The local school boards are also preparing for the new arrivals. The Ottawa Catholic School Board (OCSB) is holding a refugee support information night at the board’s headquarters on Hunt Club Road on Tuesday, April 5at 8:30 p.m.

The OCSB’s Family Welcome Centre for Newcomers helps refugee families and students get settlement support and register for school.

Ordinary residents can help in a variety of different ways. Clothing can be dropped off at the Salvation Army Thrift Store on Innes Road. Furniture and household items can be donated through Helping with Furniture located at 5350 Canotek Rd., Unit 9, and monetary donations can be made to United for Refugees, which is the main umbrella group for refugee help in the city.

Additional information can be found on the Refugee 613 website at www.refugee613.ca.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

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