A new Revelstoke group is exploring the possibility of relocating a refugee family to Revelstoke, and they’re hosting an open meeting this week to gauge interest and get others involved.
The plight of refugees has dominated headlines this summer as waves of people fleeing instability in Northern Africa and the Middle East seek refuge in Europe via dangerous journeys across the Mediterranean or mass migrations through eastern Europe to the west.
The Revelstoke group is led by spokesperson Rana Nelson, who is leading the Oct. 15 meeting. Here is our Q&A interview with Nelson:
Revelstoke Mountaineer: Why did you decide to try to bring a refugee family to Revelstoke?
Rana Nelson: There’s so much in the world that I feel that I can’t help with, but bringing a refugee family to Revelstoke is something that I feel I can do — with help from our great community! I feel thankful every day that my family and I live in Canada in general, and Revelstoke in particular. We don’t wake up to bombings, we haven’t had to leave our homes because of war, we have enough food and water, and our children have many opportunities to grow into who they want to be. If I can help a refugee family create a stable, healthy home in Canada, I would be honoured to do that.
RM: Who is the group working on the project?
RN: There are three ways that refugees can be brought to Canada by community members: through an SAH, which stands for Sponsorship Agreement Holder (e.g. many churches are SAHs), a community sponsor (an approved community organization, association, or corporation), and a Group of Five (five or more citizens in a community). I am working with a few people who are interested in bringing a family to Revelstoke and we are holding a community meeting this Thursday Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. in the Macpherson Room at the Community Centre to see if anyone else would like to help.
How do you envision the process working? What needs to be done here, and how does it work with the relevant authorities?
We are only in the beginning stages, so our first goal is to find others to help. I spoke with Dale Dodge in Oliver, B.C., whose church is sponsoring a refugee family who will arrive this month, and he strongly suggested partnering with an SAH because the process is already established. Any refugee sponsorship requires the sponsoring group to cover living costs for the family for one year. I understand that the government will cover half of those costs once the arrangements have been made, but we would still need to find the family a home, and pay for their rent, food, clothing, and other expenses. We are also required to help the parents find work, learn English, arrange for schooling and/or childcare, apply for all the necessary government ID, and generally help them integrate into and feel welcome in the community. The estimated costs are about $30,000, but given that Revelstoke is a more expensive community than most in B.C., we may have to increase that.
How can people find out more about your project?
Come to the meeting on Thursday at 7 p.m.! People are also welcome to call me at 250-837-1437.
Clarification: In the original email Q&A, the Mountaineer was provided names of a number of volunteers involved in the project. Rana Nelson later contacted us to say some of those individuals didn’t want their names published, and requested to have them removed, which we agreed to.