This page is designed to provide some updates about some activities of the CRSC. This may include information, documents or other materials.
CRSC EXECUTIVE MEETS WITH CHRIS ALEXANDER
On Thursday December 1, 2016 some members of the Catholic Refugee Sponsors’ Council (CRSC) met with Chris Alexander. He is one of the candidates for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. The CRSC is taking the opportunities as they arise to meet with various politicians with the following goals: let each of them know about the CRSC, its mandate and vision and activities, listen to the platform of each person in terms of their overall vision and specifically with respect to refugees, provide them with contacts on the ground for responding to questions or concerns, and express our thoughts on various approaches from the Canadian Government and suggestions for future action.
In this light, the CRSC and Chris Alexander spoke about his vision and ideas for Canada and the refugee situation in particular. The CRSC provided some ideas about the Government Assisted Refugee (GAR) program, the role of the UNHCR, the New York Declaration from the UN Summit, and other ways to speed up the process of refugee settlement in Canada.
REFUGEE WORKSHOP A GREAT SUCCESS
On Saturday November 26, 2016 at Marylake Shrine in King City Ontario a very enthusiastic and committed group of people sat down to discuss the refugee situation in Canada and the world. The workshop was organized by the Canadian Augustinian Centre for Social Justice and the Catholic Refugee Sponsors’ Council (CRSC).
The meeting was chaired by Brian Dwyer the Director of the Augustinian Centre for Social Justice and the chair of the CRSC. The special guest presenters included Fr. Emeka Obiezu, former representative of the Augustinians to the United Nations and Rev. Bob Dueweke, the present Augustinian rep to the United Nations.
Fr. Dueweke provided the group with an overview of the role and work of the Augustinians at the UN. He pointed to the constitution of the Augustinian Order declaring that there is a social commitment to “clearly identify and resolve issues such as: defense of life, human rights, the situation of migrants and the dignity of women; to protect justice and peace at the United Nations”.
Following this discussion, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) was presented by Fr. Obiezu and Fr. Dueweke. The SDG’s were promulgated by the UN in September 2015. There are 17 goals with specific targets for each goal. Examples of some of these goals are: no poverty, quality education, clean water, decent work, reduced inequalities, climate action, peace and justice and partnerships.
Please read more about the SDG’s here:SDG’s
In what way do the SDG goals refer to migrants and refugees? Here are some examples.
- Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
- The target is: Eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation
- Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
- The target is: Protect labor rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment
- Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries.
- The Target is: Facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies
- The Target is: By 2030, reduce to less than 3 per cent the transaction costs of migrant remittances and eliminate remittance corridors with costs higher than 5 per cent
- Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
- The Target is: End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children
- Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.
- By 2020, enhance capacity-building support to developing countries, including for least developed countries and small island developing States, to increase significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts
What followed next was a discussion of the “United Nations Summit Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants” held in New York on September 19, 2016. Canada was represented by the Prime Minister, some Cabinet members and other officials. Many people from local NGO’s and civil society were also invited. The Canadian Augustinian Centre for Social Justice was invited but was unable to attend. The summit included “round tables” attended by many members of civil society, governments and businesses.
The result of this summit is “The New York Declaration”. This document was distributed to the participants for discussion. Each country participating at the summit committed to following these declarations. A summary of the declaration is available here: New York Declaration
The declaration includes the following commitments: protection of human rights of migrants and refugees, education of children, protection against violence, recognizing the positive contributions of refugees and migrants, implementing a comprehensive refugee response program and many more.
The summit agreed that there be an international conference on the adoption of a global compact for safe migration in 2018. The CRSC and the Augustinian Centre will follow this process closely.
The next speaker was Rabea Allos from the CRSC. He spoke about the Canadian “Government Assisted Refugees” Program (GAR). He made the point that settlement of refugees in Canada is handled most efficiently and productively by private sponsors and not the GAR. The CRSC will be advocating to the Government to slowly decrease their GAR program and offer more support to private sponsorships.
At the conclusion of this informative and inspiring workshop, the participants were grateful for the new information and were motivated to help and support the Augustinian Centre and the CRSC. There will be follow-ups from the summit in New York, and from the Marylake Shrine Monastery.
TORONTO’S NEWEST AUXILIARY BISHOP
MOST REV. BOB KASUN
Members of the CRSC executive met with Bishop Bob on Wednesday November 23, 2016 at his office in the Pastoral Centre of the Archdiocese of Toronto. The purpose of the meeting was to inform the bishop of the role, vision, activities and projects of the CRSC. The bishop was very gracious with his time and showed great interest in the organization.
The CRSC and its role and collaboration with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) was discussed. The CRSC is looking forward to the CCCB publicizing the World Day of Migrants and Refugees on Sunday January 15, as proclaimed by Pope Francis. The bishop was informed that the CRSC has met with the President of the CCCB, Bishop Douglas Crosby and will meet with him again in the spring next year.
There was also some discussion about the vision of having a unified Catholic voice on the refugee issue for all of Canada. The bishop encouraged the CRSC to continue this work.
The bishop expressed interest in the “Refugee Workshop” to take place on Saturday November 26 at MaryLake, in King City Ontario. He was very pleased at the collaboration and cooperation with the Augustinians and their support for the CRSC.
The bishop pledged his support and prayers for the work of the CRSC and asked that he be kept informed as the needs arise.
CRSC EXECUTIVE MEETS ANDREW SCHEER
Some members of the CRSC executive had an opportunity to meet with Andrew Scheer, member of the Conservative Party representing Regina Qu’Appelle in November 2016. It was an occasion for both Andrew and the CRSC to get to know each other better. The mission, vision and activities of the CRSC were clearly described. Mr. Scheer praised the CRSC for our dedication and focus on the issues of refugees and resettlement. Andrew indicated that he would bring our information and ideas to his colleagues in the House of Commons. Mr. Scheer is one of the candidates running for the leadership of the Conservative Party. The CRSC is open to meeting with other candidates as well. The CRSC believes that networking and communicating with Government officials is an important role.
The CRSC & The Honourable John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
On Wed. May 25, 2016 executive members of the CRSC along with reps from the Office of Refugees for the Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT) met with the Honourable John McCallum Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. We are grateful to the minister and his staff for providing space and time to meet.
Several topics of great interest were discussed. In addition to the CRSC itself, other issues discussed include:
- SAH Allocations
- Landings in Canada
- Blended Visa Office Referral Program (BVOR)
- Government Assisted Refugee Program (GAR)
- Eritrean Refugees and closing of a refugee camp in Ghana
You are invited to read the summary which provides much more detail for each of these items. The CRSC, for example made recommendations that a refugee camp in Ghana be closed and the CRSC will provide a written proposal, that the Government move away from the GAR program and that the Government work together with the UN and the USA to resettle some Eritrean refugees. A proposal from the CRSC will be forwarded in this regard. The CRSC also asked the Government for statistics on the numbers of refugees landed in 2015 and 2016.
There was a general consensus that the group meet again to further discuss these matters and follow-up on this important meeting.
The summary is provided here: Minister John McCallum
The Honourable Michael Chan, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade for Ontario meets with the CRSC
On May 16, 2016, the CRSC executive and reps from Office for Refugees of the Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT) met with the Honourable Michael Chan Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade for the Province of Ontario. The purpose of the meeting was to introduce the Catholic Refugee Sponsors’ Council (CRSC), its vision and objectives.
The Minister was very gracious with his time and it was a very productive meeting. Here is a summary of the main points of the meeting.
- The Minister agreed to share the statistics on the numbers of refugees resettled in Ontario
- There was discussion of the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (ONIP)
- The Assurance Fund was also discussed. The program is on hold for now.
- OHIP residency requests also came up and it was suggested that asked that sponsor’s letter would be adequate.
It was agreed that further meetings be arranged as the needs arise.
CRSC – Interview with Norbert Piche, Canadian Director of Jesuit Refugee Service
JRS-Canada is an apostolate work initiated jointly by the two Canadian Jesuit Provinces; it started in August 2015. As Country Director for Canada, Norbert represents JRS to national organizations for the defense of refugees. He circulates information regarding JRS and its partners, particularly JRS in the Americas, within the two Canadian Provinces. He plays a role in the shaping of public opinion about the victims of forced displacement. He supports advocacy with the Canadian government on migration issues by Jesuit works or JRS’s partners.
Norbert has extensive experience in the refugee/immigration field. He worked for 15 years at the Centre francophone de Toronto as a Settlement Counselor and later as the Coordinator of Settlement Services. Previous to that, he was a Jesuit Volunteer at Romero House, a welcome centre for refugee claimants in Toronto.
SJR-Canada est une oeuvre apostolique initiée conjointement par les deux Provinces jésuites du Canada; elle a été mise sur pied en août 2015. En tant que Directeur national du Canada, Norbert représente le SJR auprès des organisations nationales pour la défense des réfugiés. Il fait circuler au sein des deux provinces les informations du SJR et de ses partenaires, particulièrement le SJR dans les Amériques. Il contribue à une meilleure information de l’opinion publique concernant les victimes de déplacements forcés. Il soutient les efforts de plaidoyer sur les enjeux migratoires menés auprès du gouvernement fédéral canadien par des œuvres jésuites ou par des partenaires avec lesquels le SJR collabore.
Norbert a beaucoup d’expérience dans le domaine des réfugiés et de l’immigration. Pendant 15 ans, il a travaillé au Centre francophone de Toronto en tant que conseiller en établissement et, plus tard, en tant que Coordonnateur du Service aux nouveaux arrivants. Avant cela, il était un bénévole jésuite à Romero House, un centre d’accueil pour les demandeurs d’asile à Toronto.
CRSC – FRANCESCO SORBARA TALK REFUGEES AND RESETTLEMENT
Francesco Sorbara is the Liberal MP for Vaughan, Woodbridge in Ontario. He is on the Standing Committee on Finance, the Canada-Italy Inter-parliamentary Group and the Canada-United States Inter-parliamentary Group. On April 29, 2016, he met with some of the executive of the Catholic Refugee Sponsors’ Council (CRSC). In relation to his experience internationally, the CRSC asked him to facilitate a meeting with the Minister of Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) the honourable John McCallum.
Mr. Sorbara was very interested to learn about the CRSC, its mission and objectives. The mandate and role of the Office for Refugees of the Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT) was also discussed. He was grateful to learn about the role of the Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH) in Canada.
The CRSC discussed the closure of the Office for Religious Freedom and recommended that this office or one like it be re-established. He listened very carefully to this item.
The meeting concluded with a commitment of both parties to meet again to further discuss the role of the CRSC and provide updates and follow-ups from this meeting. The CRSC thanks Mr. Sorbara who was very generous with his time.
CRSC meets Patrick Brown, Leader of the Official Opposition in Ontario
Patrick Brown and some of his assistants took time to meet with the CRSC executive on March 29, 2016 at his Office in Queens Park, Toronto. The CRSC provided some background about the CRSC and its foundation, vision and mission. The issue of the closure of the Office of Religious Freedom was discussed and there was an agreement that this decision should be reconsidered by the Federal Government. The CRSC informed Mr. Brown of our advocacy and that of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) in this regard.
Mr. Brown and his party are actively engaged in soliciting ideas and proposals from the community about specific ideas and recommendations to be discussed and debated at the Provincial Government level. The CRSC expressed interest in this endeavor. There was also some discussion of refugee resettlement issues such as the need for expansion of the eligibility criteria for sponsoring groups.
It was agreed that followup meeting should take place the the CRSC will cooperate in these meetings.
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Bishop Douglas Crosby OMI, President of the CCCB meets the CRSC Executive
Some executive members of the CRSC were warmly welcomed by Bishop Douglas Crosby OMI in his office in Hamilton, Ontario on March 23, 2016. As President of the CCCB he is their spokesperson and together with the Bishops of Canada they exercise some pastoral functions for Catholics in Canada, while respecting the autonomy of each Bishop in the service of his particular Church.
The meeting was very productive and fruitful. Many topics were discussed. The desire and need for ongoing communication was a key component of the session. The Bishop was happy to hear about the CRSC and its activities to date. There was an agreement that the collaboration demonstrated in the past year should be continued and expanded. In particular there was mention of marking in a special way the World Day of Migrants and Refugees in 2016 and again in 2017. The CRSC expressed gratitude to the Bishop for including the CRSC in some of their publications.
One item of note was the Federal Government’s closure of the Office for Religious Freedom. Both the CCCB and the CRSC support reconsidering this decision and will be advocating for this.
The CRSC is grateful to the Bishop for his time and commitment to these issues. It was agreed that a future meeting would be welcomed.
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CRSC EXECUTIVE MEETS WITH THE ASSEMBLY OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF ONTARIO
On January 25, 3016, the CRSC chair, Brian Dwyer met the General Secretary of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario (ACBO), Roger Lawlor. The ACBO is the association of the Catholic Bishops in the Province of Ontario in the service of Catholics of Ontario. There are several commissions of the ACBO. The Social Affairs Commission is of interest to the CRSC. This commission seeks to apply the rich body of Catholic social teaching to the many issues of social justice which arise in our society.
The meeting covered a wide variety of issues. These included, the nature goals and mission of the CRSC, the relationship between the CRSC and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), the goal of encouraging, helping and supporting diocese and parishes in Ontario who wish to sponsor refugees, the “state of the art” with respect to actual data in Ontario about the Catholic Church and refugee sponsorship, encouraging the promotion and support for special liturgical celebrations on the occasion of the annual World Day of Migrants and Refugees, the notion of broadening the types of Catholic institutions who could sponsor refugees, and a commitment to keep the lines of communication open.
The CRSC is grateful for the opportunity to meet with Roger Lawlor on behalf of the ACBO and hope for future collaboration and support.
You can learn more about the ACBO by clicking on this link.
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EXCELLENCY BISHOP EMMANUEL SHALETA MEETS WITH THE CRSC
His Holiness Pope Francis has appointed Most Rev. Emanuel Shaleta as Eparchial Bishop of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Mar Addai of Toronto in January 2015. The Catholic Refugee Sponsors’ Council (CRSC) representatives Brian Dwyer and Rabea Allos met with his Excellency Bishop Shaleta. He was installed as Eparchial Bishop in March 2015. The Eparchy of Mar Addai of Toronto of the Chaldeans was established in June, 2011. The Eparchy is the only Chaldean diocese in Canada and includes all the country’s Chaldean Catholics. In Toronto the parish church is Good Shepherd Chaldean Cathedral.
You can see pictures of some of the activities at the Church by clicking on this link.
During the meeting the CRSC vision and mission were discussed. In addition, the CRSC acquired much information about the parish, the people and especially the sufferings and persecutions of Christians in Syria and Iraq. It was agreed that both the CRSC and the Chaldean Eparchy collaborate. This can be accomplished by adding some information to the CRSC website about the Chaldean situation and their struggles and how they are served through the parish ministries.
The CRSC is grateful for the opportunity to meet with His Excellency Bishop Shaleta on behalf of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy and hope for future collaboration and support.
You can learn more about the Chaldean Eparchy and Bishop Shaleta by clicking on this link.
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CARDINAL VINGT-TROIS FROM PARIS RESPONDS TO CRSC
Andre Cardinal Vingt-Trois from the Archdiocese of Paris has responded to the letter from the CRSC expressing sadness and shock at the recent attacks in Paris. The CRSC reassured the cardinal that we are supporting the people with prayers. In his letter Cardinal Vingt-Trois expresses his thanks to the CRSC and its members for their support and prayers. He asks for moderation and temperance in the response to this tragedy. Finally, he refers to the season of Advent as a time to prepare for the Prince of Peace.
You can read the entire letter in French and translated into English here.
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CRSC EXPRESSES CONDOLENCES & PRAYERS TO ARCHDIOCESE OF PARIS
In a letter sent to His Eminence André Cardinal Vingt-Trois of Paris, the CRSC expressed shock and offered condolences and the assurance of our prayers for the victims and all others as a result of the attacks in Paris. The letter prays for the light of Christ to continue to shine on the Archdiocese of Paris and the work of the Cardinal and people.
You can read the full letter in French and English here.
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CRSC: TO PRIME MINISTER JUSTIN TRUDEAU – LET’S WORK TOGETHER
The CRSC has sent a letter dated November 9, 2015 to The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada. The CRSC makes the following points. First, congratulations on forming the next Government of Canada. Second, the role and vision of the CRSC. Third, our united approach with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and our focus on the plight of refugees, and finally our commitment to work with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Honourable John McCallum. We hope for collaboration on this important issue.
You can read the entire letter in English and French here.
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LETTER – THE HONOURABLE JOHN McCALLUM, MINISTER OF IMMIGRATION, REFUGEES AND CITIZENSHIP
On November 5, 2015 the CRSC sent a letter to the new Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship the Honourable John McCallum. The letter expressed congratulations to Mr. McCallum on his appointment as Minister and it describes the role and vision of the CRSC. In addition it requests a meeting with the Minister to continue the dialogue and relationship established with the former minister.
You can read the full letter in English and French here.
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CRSC INVITES USCCB TO COLLABORATE
In a letter sent early in November 2015, the CRSC has invited the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to collaborate together in a variety of ways. The World Day of Migrants and Refugees is on January 17, 2016 and the theme is “Migrants and Refugees Challenge us. The Response of the Gospel of Mercy“. The CRSC is encouraging the USCCB to mark this day in a special way with Canada by having common prayers, sharing of resources for liturgy, links to various websites and other initiatives.
CHRIS ALEXANDER, MINISTER OF IMMIGRATION MEETS WITH CRSC – PRACTICAL STEPS TO BE TAKEN
- On June 5, 2015, members of the executive of the CRSC and some staff from the Office for Refugees of the Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT) met the Minister of Immigration Chris Alexander at his office in Ajax. There was a wide-ranging discussion of several topics and some agreements on projects and practical steps to be taken in areas for cooperation. These include:
The under representation of Christian refugees and those of other religious minorities in the Middle East. The Minister indicated that he would check into this issue. The Minister was given a letter with respect to this issue for his files and further information.
It was confirmed that sponsoring of refugees will only be approved by the present and future Government regulations.
ORAT offers several seminars and workshops for sponsors and constituency groups. The Minister was invited to attend and he indicated he would be happy to attend when his schedule permits.
The Minister also encouraged the CRSC and ORAT to inform his office of any cases that do not meet the standards of the Government, so his office can follow-up.
You can read more about this meeting by clicking here
CRSC INVITED TO AN ANNOUNCEMENT BY PRIME MINISTER HARPER
- On June 4, 2015, Prime Minister Harper made several announcements with respect to collecting biometric data from people entering Canada. Biometrics measure a person’s unique physiological characteristics — including face, iris, retinal veins, fingerprints, voice and hand geometry — to verify identity. He announced that digital photos and fingerprints are “the only biometrics data applicants will have to provide” under the government’s plan for expanded collection of data. Visitors will have to pay $85 to cover the cost of data collection.
- You can read more about this announcement by clicking here
CRSC MEETS WITH CHRIS ALEXANDER – MINISTER OF IMMIGRATION
- In December 2014, some executive members of the CRSC and a representative from the Office of Refugees for the Archdiocese of Toronto (ORAT) and discussed several items. These included; the Interim Federal Health Program, the change in the age of dependency rules, increase in processing times, and a more extensive use of the BVOR program. The parties agreed to continue dialogue and collaboration on the issue of resettlement of refugees.
CANADIAN CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS (CCCB)
- In August 2014, the CRSC wrote a letter to the President of the CCCB, Most Rev. Paul-André Durocher, offering our support and solidarity for the Churches in Iraq and the people affected by the violence. A full copy of the letter can be found here.
- The CCCB held its Plenary session in September, 2014 and appointed several Bishops to serve on the Justice and Peace Commission. The chair of this Commission is Most Rev. Donald Bolen from Saskatchewan. The CRSC wrote a letter congratulating him and his colleagues on their appointments. The full letter can be viewed here.
PATRIARCH – CHALDEAN CATHOLIC CHURCH IN IRAQ
- The situation in Iraq has caused many groups, countries, religions and Pope Francis to respond. The CRSC wrote a letter to His Beatitude Louis Raphael I Sako, Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq and the world. We offered our prayers, best wishes and promised solidarity with him and his people. Our letter can be found here.
- Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq responded to our letter. He is very grateful for our solidarity and says, “We will never give up”. His response is here.
PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE PASTORAL CARE OF MIGRANTS AND ITINERANT PEOPLE
- The Pontifical Council for the care of migrants is located in Rome, Italy. It was established in 1970 by Pope Paul VI. It has the task of studying and providing pastoral care to “people on the move”. The Council brings the pastoral concern of the Church to bear on the special needs of those who have been forced to leave their native land or who do not have one. In August, 2014 the CRSC wrote a letter to the Council informing them of our role and mission. We invited collaboration between the two groups and expressed the desire work together. The full text of the letter is here.
BILL C-585 Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act
- Bill C585 is a private member’s bill that would allow provinces to reduce access to social assistance for refugee claimants and other people without permanent status in Canada. Many groups and individuals have responded to this bill and have expressed their objections. The CRSC also responded. In September 2014 we wrote to Matthew Kelway, MP for Beaches-East York and a member of the New Democratic Party. In the letter we expressed two concerns: one of transparency of the process and the other was the seeming lack of humanitarian care for other people in great need and suffering. You can read the entire letter here.
- Mr. Kellway responded to our letter, offering his support for our view and expressing the position of the NDP. He indicated that his party would oppose the bill. His response can be read here.
SCALABRINI INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION NETWORK (SIMN)
- SIMN’S vision is to foster a leading global network that serves migrants, refugees, internally displaced persons, and advocates for their dignity and rights worldwide. Their resources include publications and newsletters. Their recent publication is a research work on US Immigration Law. Their next publication will be a research document on Canadian Immigration law and policy. The CRSC has asked to be a contributor to this work.