Churches reach out for refugee support

Sunday meeting will discuss Two Saints and Friends initiative

Julie Poskitt of the Anglican Diocese of B.C. and Saanich resident Heather Hanson have started Two Saints and Friends

Two local churches are working together to bring a Syrian refugee family to Saanich, and they’re looking outside their congregations for others to join their cause.

The St. Peter’s and St. David-by-the-Sea Anglican churches have started an effort called Two Saints and Friends, appealing to the community for help with fundraising, donations and ensuring a smooth transition for an incoming refugee family.

Saanich resident Heather Hanson came up with the idea for Two Saints and Friends after speaking with her neighbour, who attends St. Peter’s. Knowing the Anglican Diocese of B.C. had already mandated to help the Syrian refugee crisis, she was inspired to reach out to the church.

“I’m not a member of the church at all, but I wanted to join up and help,” said Hanson. “That’s why we’re calling it Two Saints and Friends.

“I suggested that they could join together with the community because there’s a lot of people that probably would like to help but they’re not able to on their own.”

The Lakehill church was immediately on board with her idea and joined forces with the St. David-by-the-Sea in Cordova Bay to expand their reach into local communities.

“We’re kind of a figure eight-shaped parish,” Julie Poskitt of the Anglican Diocese said with a laugh.

“A committee of us settled on refugee sponsorship as something that would turn us outward into the community and where we would have the opportunity to work with community members on something that was of common interest to a lot of people.”

Two Saints and Friends has a short-term plan to bring in a small Syrian refugee family, which Hanson said can be sorted out relatively quickly.

“There are government-sponsored people, which means they’ve had their paperwork done, their security screening is done and the government is satisfied that they’re acceptable to come to Canada,” she said.

The group also has a long-term plan to bring in another refugee family, possibly from somewhere other than Syria. Poskitt said they are open to helping refugees from other countries that have been devastated.

“There are people who were waiting in refugee camps before the Syrian crisis broke,” said Poskitt. “There was a sense that those folks, who are being very patient and had faithfully completed all their paperwork and are waiting for sponsors, were being displaced by the Syrian crisis. We want to also respond to that.”

Currently, the churches are looking for help from residents and community associations with fundraising, bookkeeping and gathering donations such as furniture, household goods and clothing. They also need people who can help the refugee families transition to life on the Island, including translators, food support and people who can provide crisis intervention and PTSD counselling.

“We’re looking for community people who probably don’t have a church at all but want to be involved or would like to help with the refugee situation,” said Hanson.

On Sunday, Feb. 21, St. Peter’s is hosting a meeting open to the public to discuss the Two Saints and Friends initiative from 2:30 to 4 p.m. A relative of a refugee family is slated to speak at Sunday’s meeting about the conditions her relatives are facing and why they must leave the country.

Anyone interested in helping the effort is welcome to join the meeting and learn more about their work to help the Syrian refugee crisis. Those who can’t attend can email to learn more about meeting and get involved.

“I feel like it is a chance to be more globally involved,” said Hanson of the group. “All of us benefit when we’re helping someone else.”


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich man killed in Alberta shooting

Victim is 30-year-old Greater Victoria man, say police

PHOTOS: Colwood middle school students let sparks fly at trades workshop

Day-long program immerses students in metalwork, carpentry, and electrical work

Saanich’s plastic bag ban won’t be affected by the Supreme Court ruling against Victoria

Council amended Saanich’s ban to align with the B.C. Court of Appeal’s ruling in November

West Shore Parks & Recreation to unveil new indoor sports complex by end of January

Grand opening of sport court and turf field planned for Jan. 31 at 10 a.m.

Powerful Russian folk trio makes triumphant return to city

Trio Voronezh back on Victoria stage for first time since appearing at Coupe Mondiale in 2013

VIDEO: Wet’suwet’en activists say Victoria arrests a ‘perpetuation of violence’

Group demonstrating in Victoria in protest of Coastal GasLink pipeline

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Brownie, a St. Bernard mix, found suffering from gunshot wound in B.C. Peace region

The dog was also found to be emaciated and suffering from a flea infestation

Ucluelet and Tofino mayors call for “calmness” and “empathy” as highway closure cuts communities off from supplies

Ministry of transportation expects to open road for “essential travel only” from noon-8 p.m. Friday.

Was Bigfoot just spotted on a Washington State webcam?

Sherman Pass is rougly 70 kilometres south of Grand Forks, B.C.

B.C. employer health tax wins ‘paperweight award’ for red tape

Businesses forced to estimate payroll, pay new tax quarterly

Red Carpet Valentine’s event will aid Sooke charities

This is a chance to have that “red carpet” experience

New U.S. LNG terminal near northwestern B.C. town proposed

AlaskCAN International LNG wants terminal just over Canadian border, but using B.C gas

Most Read