1. What is Yukon Cares?

We are a local group of committed volunteers whose purpose is to bring refugee families to our community.  Yukon Cares is an unaffiliated, non-denominational, non-partisan, community-based organization. We recognize that all kinds of people can become refugees – those who fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion – and no one is a refugee by choice.

2. What is involved in the private sponsorship of refugees?

Refugees resettled to Canada may be sponsored by the government or by a private sponsorship group. Through the private sponsorship process, groups are responsible for all material and financial support of the refugees. They must also provide orientation, settlement and emotional support during the sponsorship period (usually one year) or until the refugees become self-supporting. Government financed settlement services are usually available to the refugees; however, refugees may not access social assistance.

Private sponsors may be:

  1. Sponsorship Agreement Holders or their Constituent Groups: A number of groups across the country have signed agreements with Citizenship and Immigration Canada to help support refugees from abroad when they resettle in Canada. These groups are called Sponsorship Agreement Holders. Sponsorship Agreement Holders can authorize constituent groups, based in the refugee’s expected community of settlement, to sponsor refugees under its agreement but assume overall responsibility and liability for sponsorships.
  2. Groups of Five: Any group of five or more Canadian citizens or permanent residents who meet certain criteria can also sponsor refugees.  In G-5 sponsorships the individuals act as guarantors that the necessary support will be provided for the full duration of the sponsorship.
  3. Community Groups: An organization, association or corporation that meets certain criteria has the ability to submit two sponsorship undertakings per year.

 Private groups may sponsor Visa Office-Referred (VOR) refugees who have been identified and determined as being in need of protection by Canadian visa officers abroad.  Under the Blended VOR Program, Citizen and Immigration Canada provides 6 months of income support to refugees and private sponsors are responsible for the remaining settlement costs and assistance. More information on private sponsorship is available in the Handbook for Sponsoring Groups published by the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program

3. What is the relationship between the Catholic Church and Yukon Cares?

The relationship between the Catholic Church is:

  1. Sponsorship Agreement Holder: The Archdiocese of Vancouver is recognized by Citizenship and Immigration Canada as a Sponsorship Agreement Holder.   In September 2015, the Diocese of Whitehorse signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Archdiocese of Vancouver to be listed as a constituent group under their Sponsorship Agreement.  Yukon Cares is partnering with the Whitehorse Diocese to support the relocation of refugees to Whitehorse.
  2. Financial oversight: The Whitehorse Diocese has established a Refugee Fund, a separate account with its own ledger to track donations and expenses. All funds raised by YukonCares, either through the online GoFundMe site or through local fundraisers, will be held in the Refugee Fund account and put towards supporting the relocation of refugees to Whitehorse.

4. Why do we want to help refugees when people need help here at home?

We want to help refugees because it is the right thing to do. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), set up in 1951 to help the approximately 1 million people still uprooted after WWII to return home, estimated the number of refugees of concern to UNHCR to be 13 million in mid-2014. A further 5.1 million registered Palestinian refugees are looked after in some 60 camps in the Middle East by United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which was set up in 1949 to care for displaced Palestinians.

The refugees of concern to UNHCR are spread around the world, with half in Asia and some 28 per cent in Africa. They live in widely varying conditions, from well-established camps and collective centres to makeshift shelters or out in the open. More than half of all refugees of concern to UNHCR live in urban areas. They all face three possible solutions: voluntary repatriation; local integration in country of asylum, or resettlement in a third country.

The current Syrian crisis is widely considered to be worst humanitarian crisis since WWII.  By August 2015, an estimated 12 million Syrians (50% of the population) had been displaced and in need of humanitarian assistance; 7.6 million are displaced within Syria, and almost 4 million are refugees in neighbouring countries.

 5. How can I help?

  1. Attend a fundraising event: Yukon Cares has a number of fundraising events planned.  Visit our Facebook page for details.
  2. Donate funds: Learn more about how you can donate to Yukon Cares.
  3. Donate goods and services: With the arrival of our family a list of ourstanding items will be posted on our Facebook page.
  4. Get involved: Join one of our committees! Contact us at cares@gmail.com to discuss how you may be able to contribute.
  5. Support charitable work: Numerous international charities are taking donations to directly assist Syria’s war refugees, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Canadian Red Cross, World Vision, Oxfam and War Child.Médecins sans frontières (Doctors Without Borders) is providing humanitarian care along the routes migrants take. And a group called the Migrant Offshore Aid Station is working to try to save migrants in distress in the Mediterranean.

 6. How can I stay informed?

YukonCares will be hosting regular public meetings to help those interested stay informed.  A Facebook page has been set up where information is regularly posted about upcoming meetings, fundraisers, news, etc.

7. What was Yukon Cares’ process to sponsor a

To begin the process of sponsoring a Syrian refugee family in Yukon, Yukon Cares:

  1. Established a partnership with an SAH (Sponsorship agreement holder). In our case the Vancouver Catholic Archdiocese agreed to serve as am SAH.
  2. Signed an MOU (Memorandum of understanding), with our local Catholic Archdiocese – This gave us the status of being a constituent group and allowed us access to the Blended Visa Office Referral, BVOR list.
  3. We then placed a hold on a BVOR file (for a family of 10).
  4. The family, that was then living in Lebanon, was interviewed by a Canadian visa officer and approved as refugees.
  5. We were then asked by Canada’s Department of Citizenship and Immigration to submit an Undertaking.
  6. The Federal government then approved the YukonCares’ Undertaking.
  7. We were then asked to include a 16-month-old baby in our file. We completed the paperwork for the baby. Now our family had 11 members.

Then we prepared a house and all necessary supplies for the family while we waited for the family’s arrival. The family arrived on Saturday, January 30, 2016.