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Lawyers Offer Advice to Private Refugee Sponsors

Written by  Asian Pacific Post Saturday, 05 December 2015 18:19
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Canada expects to receive 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year, 8,000 of which will be privately sponsored.
Canada expects to receive 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year, 8,000 of which will be privately sponsored. Photo Credit: Josh Zakary via Flickr CC

by Asian Pacific Post

Help has arrived for Vancouver residents who want to assist with the refugee crisis, thanks to a new initiative from the University of Ottawa Refugee Hub.

The Vancouver chapter of the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program (SSP) launched its Matching Program on December 2nd, connecting Vancouverites interested in sponsoring refugees to a team of pro bono lawyers, law students and sponsorship experts.

“Our regional partners are crucial to this program’s success,” says Jennifer Bond, Faculty Director of the Refugee Hub. “We are thrilled to be working with our dedicated Vancouver colleagues on a project that will bring Canadians across the country together as they respond to a tragic situation.”

The response has been outstanding. Canadians have shown their eagerness to help and have reached out to various resettlement initiatives, wanting to know how they can be a part of the solution.

“Our regional partners are crucial to this program’s success."

While sponsoring refugees is an important piece of the puzzle, the process can be confusing. Through Vancouver’s Refugee SSP, the city’s legal community is advising sponsors and helping them complete applications at no cost.

In early November, the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP) trained over 50 lawyers and law students on how to deliver pro-bono sponsorship services to members of the public. The RSTP is a national organization that educates individuals and groups on sponsorship.

The training took place at MOSAIC, a settlement services organization.

The SSP is a national initiative supported by the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, the uOttawa Human Rights Research and Education Centre, Lifeline Syria and the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program. MOSAIC is a local partner in Vancouver.

While sponsoring refugees is an important piece of the puzzle, the process can be confusing.

“MOSAIC has been working with private sponsors and sponsorship agreement holders for many years,” says Saleem Spindari, a Manager of the Community Outreach and Advocacy Programs at MOSAIC. “The new Refugee Sponsorship Support Program comes at a time when there is an increase demand for support in preparing sponsorship applications. Canadians are actively looking for ways to support those fleeing their homes and seeking safety and MOSAIC is glad to be part of this campaign.”

Vancouver is among five other major Canadian cities to launch a regional chapter of the SSP, alongside Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary and Victoria. The program will soon be available in nine centres across Canada.

Sponsorship groups that want free legal support throughout the sponsorship process or lawyers and experts who would like to volunteer can contact the Vancouver team at rsspvancouver@gmail.com.


Re-published in partnership with Asian Pacific Post

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