Friday, January 22, 2016

CIES Sits On City of Calgary's Syrian Refugee Welcome Committee

Yesterday afternoon CIES once again met with the City of Calgary's Syrian Refugee Welcome Committee at Historic City Hall. Chaired by Scott Deederly, Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of the Mayor of Calgary, the committee represents a multi-faceted partnership of several arms of the community that is serving to help refugees, in the short term, through a tumultuous time of transition into a new, and many ways, unrecognisable life. Long term, the goal is to assist them in their integration and on their journey to becoming contributing members of Canadian society.

Those in attendance included representatives of organizations such as the Calgary Stampede, United Way, 1300 Stitches for Syria, the Muslim Council of Calgary, the Centre for Newcomers, the Calgary Public Library, the PARATUS Group and CCIS, among others. Support, facilitation, implementation and more in terms of services were discussed and shared.

A few numbers for you - Calgary has taken in about 600 refugees thus far, with 70% being privately sponsored and 30% being government sponsored. Currently 140 are in temporary housing, as they spend 14 days in transition housing; attend 8 different orientations about the city and the services available to them, before being assigned a home in which to live. Several of the families (approximately 125 in total) have been bigger than expected, (7-10 members) so housing is still a major challenge facing the city.

Regardless of this and other challenges, a common theme in our discussions was the support and care coming from all corners of our great city, and is very much reflective of Mayor Nenshi's words back in November when addressing the upcoming arrival of refugees; "The success of one of us, is the success of all of us."

Here at CIES we couldn't agree more and we will continue to contribute in any way we can to make sure each and every Calgarian is on the road to success.

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