In December of 2015, as the larger culture’s awareness of issues around Refugees grew, and the call to action and the need to be doing something grew in people’s hearts, Bishop Melissa Skelton announced the creation of the Bishops Fund for Refugee Resettlement (BFfRR); I am privileged to be one of several people who oversee applications to this fund.
Like many people, I was deeply moved by the Syrian Refugee crisis. I have been part of parishes that have sponsored refugee families and individuals since I was five years old. Ten years ago I sat in a waiting room with newly arrived parents and a very helpful and supportive woman from Mosiac (an organization that works for refugees), as an 18 month old child went in for life saving heart surgery that he would never have had in the refugee camp into which he had been born. I prayed very hard that day.
BFfRR was set up with a generous donation of $10,000. It’s been a way that people can become involved, can help, can participate in doing something. It was set up primarily to resource “Month 13” expenses. Many parishes were then, and are now already actively involved in sponsoring refugees to come to Canada, but inevitably there are expenses that are not anticipated, and often families and individuals need support longer than the 12 months of official sponsorship.
In the almost two years since it was set up, the fund has grown through other generous donations of individuals and parishes to over $65,000. Some parishes have even created a line item on their budget to support this important ministry. It’s a way to support, and uphold refugees coming to Canada, even if a parish does not feel able to sponsor an individual or family themselves. We have received and been able to support applications for things like special equipment and a shower for refugees who arrive with disabilities, and other miscellaneous expenses, but surprisingly the primary support has been for dental care.
Often the individuals and families our parishes sponsor and support have not seen a dentist in years, they have been living in Refugee Camps, or in very unstable situations and dental care is not high on the list of priorities. The Canadian government while covering the cost of a basic check up for New Arrivals, does not cover the long-term care that is often needed, nor have parishes anticipated this expense!
The Diocesan Refugee Unit (DRU) believes that this need will continue as more and more refugees are welcomed and settle here.
How to Give
Those wishing to contribute by credit card will find a "Give" button located at the top of each page this website. For your convenience here is a DIRECT LINK TO THE GIVING PAGE. You can also text DONW to 7797, and this same contribution link will be texted to you. Please click on the dropdown box beside the words "Giving Type".
Those wishing to make a contribution by cheque, may make out the cheque to The Diocese of New Westminster, noting that it is for the Bishop’s Fund for Refugee Resettlement and mail it to: 1410 Nanton Avenue, Vancouver BC V6H 2E2.
How to Apply If you are need of access to this fund, please email the Executive Archdeacon Douglas Fenton.