St. George’s Church is throwing its doors open to the public in an effort to help them extend a welcome to family of Syrian refugees.
“The parish of St. George’s Anglican Church in Cadboro Bay has decided to sponsor a Syrian refugee family and bring them to Victoria, hopefully sometime in the spring of 2016,” said Jennifer Handley, co-chair of St. George’s refugee steering committee.
The Cadboro Bay church will be privately sponsoring the family, separate from the federal government-sponsored plan to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by February 2016.
“At this point in time, we don’t know which family we will be welcoming to Victoria, but we are looking to bring a family of five or six people here to Victoria,” said Handley. “There’s just so much happening at the moment at all levels.”
She said in order to house and support the family for a year the church will need to raise $60,000 to $70,000. To help raise funds for the effort, St. George’s is staging a refugee sponsorship benefit concert. The show, featuring Alexandra Browning (soprano), Julia Cunningham (harp), Julia Morgan, and the Dragonettes, will be on Friday from 7 to 9 p.m. at the church located at 3909 St. George’s Lane, across from Maynard Park. Those wishing to attend are advised to come early to ensure they have a seat.
“This concert is an opportunity for us to not just give the parish an opportunity to get involved in this exciting project but also for members of the extended community,” said Handley, adding admission to the concert will be by donation. “We will be encouraging all those attending the concert to either make a donation right then and there or consider making a pledge that they would deliver on over the course of the next year.”
She expects the concert will be just the first in a series of fundraisers to help bring a Syrian family to start a new life and new future here in Victoria.
“I think it’s important because we who live here in Victoria, no matter how we have come to Victoria ourselves, we are blessed to live in this place. We have a lot that we can share with those whose lives have been disrupted by war and displacement,” said Handley.
She expects the Syrian family will be embraced by Victoria, pointing out the city has previously opened its doors to refugees from Vietnam and Kosovo.
“I think that Victoria is a very welcoming community, it’s a multicultural community. Victoria is a caring community, and has a history of responding to these kinds of needs.”