The Summerland Refugee Sponsorship Group is dedicated to sponsoring and supporting refugee families and assisting them to integrate in the local community. The Group works to promote information exchange and public advocacy, identify local resources, develop capacity, and coordinate a community response to refugee resettlement.
The Group is nonsectarian and is open to any person interested in the settlement, sponsorship and protection of refugees. Currently there is an organizing committee of 28 people reflecting the diversity of the Summerland community.
Summerland was the first community in the Okanagan to welcome a Syrian refugee family when a family of five arrived in March 2015 under the sponsorship of the Summerland United Church. Summerland’s Holy Child parish is also working with Catholic parishes in Penticton to sponsor another Syrian family.
The Summerland Refugee Sponsorship Group is drawing on the experience gained from these previous sponsors and is also working closely with both the District of Summerland and South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services.
We are delighted to welcome our first sponsored refugee family to Summerland! The Al Shebleque family arrived on 14 FEB 2016 (Valentine's Day!) and are busy settling in.
Motion passed by Summerland Council on Dec. 14, 2015:
WHEREAS Summerland Council wishes to provide a leadership role to assist in the Syrian refugee crisis and to welcome refugees to our community;
AND WHEREAS members of the community have formed a Summerland Refugee Sponsorship Group to identify resources and coordinate a community response in supporting refugee families who may choose Summerland as their new home;
BE IT RESOLVED THAT the District of Summerland provide administrative and technical support to the Summerland Refugee Sponsorship Group where able,
AND FURTHER THAT Councillor Doug Holmes be appointed Council liaison to the Summerland Refugee Sponsorship Group.
The municipality provides administrative and technical support and Cllr Doug Holmes serves as co-chair of the Group’s steering committee.
A limited number of organizations, most of which are faith-based, have refugee sponsorship agreements with the federal government. These ‘sponsorship agreement holders’ can sponsor refugees themselves or they work with other groups to sponsor refugees. Since the Summerland Refugee Sponsorship Group is not an agreement holder in its own right, we will be sponsoring a family under the Diocese of Nelson’s sponsorship agreement.
The goal of the CFSOS is to build smart & caring communities that provide opportunities for all citizens to thrive in a healthy, vibrant environment.
SOICS is an immigrant service organization that provides regional coordination with the federal and provincial governments, local authorities, churches, and community groups to ensure all the supports are in place to welcome Syrian refugee families throughout the South Okanagan.