The Syrian refugee family we are sponsoring fled to Saudi Arabia approximately ten years ago.  As a Congregation we agreed to sponsor this family at the OBUC February 2018 Annual Meeting. 

Our sponsorship (Private Sponsorship of Refugees) was approved by ROC-O (Resettlement Operations Centre in Ottawa) in August 2019. Just when we thought their file must be at the top of the pile, COVID hit. All movement on any unprocessed files came to a complete halt until recently. 

In November of 2022, they were finally contacted by the Canadian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, UAE. They went for their biometrics and interview in December at the Canadian Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.  They are now awaiting their medical checks.   In December after their biometrics and interview, the family received an email from the IRCC (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) informing them that their application for permanent residency is being processed and that they now qualify to receive pre-arrival services to help prepare them for their new life in Canada.

Things are looking good, so we are starting to prepare for the possibility of their arrival.  Layali was told that they could be coming to Canada anytime between January and December, 2023.  Yay!!   We are hoping to settle the family in the Fort Rouge or St. Vital area of Winnipeg where Ahmad’s two sisters, Nahed and Kaffa live. The sisters plan to be the interpreters and Kaffa is planning to take her brother’s family to their many different appointments and help them set up their life here.

We will also play a supportive role in this wherever we can help.  Our Minister Kristin has contacted Trinity United in Fort Rouge and Meadowood United in St. Vital to see if they would like to partner with us or help in any way they can.  They have both agreed to participate in fundraising and Trinity United will introduce the family to the large Syrian community in their area, as well as to any help groups and will be offering the family a garden plot in their community garden.  It is wonderful to have them on board!

We are now putting together a task group to prepare ourselves for the very possible and exciting arrival of the family!  Laurie and Hans Peper will act as co-chairs of this group.  Laurie will also act as family liaison and Hans will look into housing at that time, but anyone is welcome to join in these two roles.  Stan Penner from the Stewardship Committee is currently reviewing our financial obligations. We will be needing one or two people to head up fundraising, one or two people to head up in-kind donations, and we could use a few members at large.

Contact the OBUC Office (204-444-2815) if you are interested in any of these positions. As soon as we have an arrival date, we can begin fundraising outside of our congregation and at that time we will need many hands. This outreach project is an exciting opportunity for us to come together as a church community and welcome these newcomers to Canada. I hope it will be a very rewarding and bonding experience for everyone involved!

The Family:

Parents:     Ahmad: Father  /  Layali: Mother

Children:  Mariam: 14  /  Taher: 13  /  Umran: 6  /  Zain: 4