Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Who should we sponsor?

We started of our second meeting with a pot-luck dinner at Pegi and Phil’s house.
Rebecca, a registered nurse with extensive mental health experience, joined us to become our newest member. There are now 14 people in the sponsorship group – plus 15-year old Kieran, who has decided to accompany his uncle Raghu to the meetings. Will this large size make things unwieldy and complicated? Some group members suggested splitting the group in two, each with their own sponsorship agreement. After some discussions we agreed to stay together, as it would put less pressure on us inexperienced ‘first time sponsors’ and allow for more flexibility, as many of us have a busy schedule and are often traveling. We all agreed that given our large size, we need functioning sub-committees with clear expectations.

Several of us volunteered to be the lead for the various tasks required by the sponsorship agreement, such as housing, employment and health. 

One of the most important questions we asked ourselves was: Who should we sponsor? A woman at risk, someone from the LGBT community, a family? Some thought that sponsoring a bigger group of people might be too ambitious financially. We would need to raise at least $17,000 for a group of four – probably a lot more given how expensive Toronto is. Others felt strongly about sponsoring a mother,or parents, with children and felt that our group is big and connected enough to raise sufficient funds. Some members pointed out the potential difficulty of settling in teenagers into Canadian society. 

Given the strong medical expertise in our group, with two physicians and two registered nurses, and the availability of excellent medical and mental health resources in Toronto, we agreed that we should be open to sponsoring refugees with medical conditions. Several of us have been especially moved by the plight of Syrian refugees. We recognized that our choices are dependent on the profiles we will receive from Citizen and Immigration Canada, via the sponsorship agreement holder. Once we choose a profile we can put a place holder for three days to make further inquiries.
Our next important step will be to find a sponsor agreement holder (SAH). We discussed which one would be the most suitable for us. Andrew will first contact the United Church to see if a congregation is willing to support us. This lead to an interesting discussion of why SAHs seem to be mostly faith-based. None of us has any affiliation to a church or other religious group. Why are there not more secular groups involved in sponsoring refugees?
By Claudia Blume


  1. Looking to talk to someone from your group for another Riverdale project.

  2. Hi Piali, thanks for reaching out to us! We are only a small private group (many of us also in Riverdale) that can not take on more members right now, but we can use help with a lot tasks such as fundraising, finding housing etc. If you want to form your own group I suggest you contact Lifeline Syria or one of the sponsorship agreement holders.