Diocese of New Westminster - Sponsorship Agreement Holder


The Diocese of New Westminster is a Sponsorship Agreement Holder. This means that it has a formal agreement with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to authorize Constituent Groups (this is the formal name given to Sponsoring Groups) to sponsor refugees to come to Canada under the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program. The diocese receives a yearly allocation allowing it to authorize a few sponsorships per year and has been authorizing refugee sponsorships since the late 1980s.  

The Constituent Groups we authorize usually consist of at least one Parish connected to the diocese.  The authorized group is completely responsible for the financial, practical and emotional aspects of settlement when the refugees arrive in Canada for a period of at least one year.  The diocese is only able to authorize a limited number of sponsorships each year.  In addition, it must be convinced that the Group will be able to carry out its settlement responsibilities and of course that the refugees are likely to meet Canada’s eligibility requirements.

We welcome involvement from other faith groups, however, we restrict our partnerships to faith groups whose teachings align with the Anglican Church of Canada in matters regarding human rights, including rights of women and people who identify as LGBTQ2S+.

The Diocesan Coordinator is Dr. Shakuntala Soden, her email is linked.


Umoja Virtual Gala 2021 From Newcomer to Neighbour, October 23, 2021 6:30pm online

Community connection reunites Syrian brothers. Follow this link for the story on the website news pages.

Information from Revenue Canada for 2020 Tax Filing:

We are writing to you today on behalf of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) about the 2021 tax-filing season and its potential impact on your clients. Whether newcomers live in Canada permanently or temporarily, it is important that they are aware of their tax obligations.

The CRA understands that COVID-19 has affected the usual ways that many Canadians, permanent and temporary residents manage their taxes. The CRA is here to guide newcomers through the process and answer questions they may have.

To learn everything newcomers need to know about filing their return, go to canada.ca/taxes-newcomers where they can find more information on:

  • residency status
  • completing an income tax and benefit return
  • filing your tax return electronically
  • when and how to apply for benefits and credits
  • claiming credits and deductions
  • contacting the CRA for help

Newcomers can also watch a CRA video available in 12 different languages: Benefits and Credits for Newcomers to Canada.

Do your clients need more help filing taxes?

There are many community organizations that are hosting free virtual tax clinics. Volunteers from the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program may be able to help newcomers complete and file their taxes for free by videoconference, phone, or through a document drop-off arrangement. To find a clinic, please check the national directory.

Please share this information with any of your clients that could benefit from the assistance provided by the CRA.

A friendly reminder that most taxpayers must file their income tax by April 30, 2021.



Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada


August 17, 2020: Here is the COVID-19 Fact Sheet for Refugees distributed by the Government of Canada

On Friday, June 12, 2020, Diocesan Refugee Unit, Dr. Soden forwarded a letter from Suneet Kharay, Senior Trainer for the Refugee Sponsorship Training program in Scarborough about the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and refugee eligibility. Here is the letter:

Dear SAHs,  

IRCC has shared letter templates that sponsors can adapt for use with the newcomers they sponsor so they:  

Understand the consequences of applying and receiving funds from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) if they do not meet the eligibility requirements of the program; and, Understand that any funds received from the CERB is considered to be earned income and that sponsors are able to reduce the level of monthly financial support they provide if the funds the newcomer receives from the CERB reaches the 50% threshold for earned income.  

The letter templates (are available for downloading below in .DOCX) are attached and are also available in English and French on the COVID-19 hub of the RSTP website 

Further information about the CERB, and when sponsors can begin making deductions to the monthly financial support they provide on the basis of newcomers receiving funds from the CERB (i.e. the 50% threshold), can be found in the April 24, 2020 edition of the RSTP Bulletin   

Pleas for sponsorship. A message from DRU chair, Shannon Muir sharing stories of folks that need sponsorship.

Those of you involved in newcomer ministry may be interested in participating in this UBC Department of Sociology project.

PLEASE! Use this link to access Shannon Muir's comprehensive article (September 10) on sponsorship and co-sponsorship of refugees. This article answers MANY of the questions that parishes wishing to engage this ministry are or should be asking.

Thursday, June 20, World Refugee Day for 2019. Some thoughtful and helpful material on the UNHCR website. https://www.unhcr.org/refugeeday/

Great news from the federal government regarding LGBTQ2+ Refugees

The following is a message from the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship received on May 24, 2019. It was sent to the Diocese through Dr Shakuntala Soden, our diocesan refugee coordinator. For more information on how to be involved you can reach her at refugee@vancouver.anglican.ca. Dr Soden and Ms Shannon Muir, ODNW, Refugee Unit Chair are amazing resources to our diocese on refugee sponsorship and resettlement.
Dear Sir or Madam,
Forty years ago, Canadians were moved by the plight of the “boat people” fleeing the violence and destruction of the Vietnam War. In response, over 60,000 Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian refugees were brought to Canada, of which 32,000 found refuge in the homes of faith groups, civic organizations, and individuals all across Canada. This unprecedented response established the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program as a vital component of Canada’s humanitarian actions. This Canadian tradition and the sponsorship community’s enduring commitment continue to thrive, most recently helping Canada resettle 70,000 Syrian refugees, half of whom arrived through the PSR and Blended Visa Office Referred programs.
Thanks to the leadership of sponsors, Canada has resettled record-levels of refugees and, for the first time ever, Canada has resettled more refugees than any other country in the world. This level of humanitarian response is only attainable through the hard work, perseverance, and collaboration of dedicated and generous sponsors and Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs).
Your contributions as a SAH to support the PSR program have helped make it a valuable example of innovative and effective action for the international community. The Global Refugee Sponsorship Initiative works to assist other countries to open new pathways for refugee protection by sharing Canada’s experience and expertise in private sponsorship, and has already helped numerous countries implement similar programs.
The tireless work you undertake in supporting refugees is a demonstration of the generosity and goodwill of Canadians, who contribute countless volunteer hours and financial commitments to help refugees begin new lives in Canada.
Having recently travelled across Canada to meet with private sponsors and stakeholders directly, I am aware of the concerns and challenges raised by the sponsorship community with regard to Departmental program integrity measures. These efforts are intended to preserve the integrity of the PSR program so that we can continue to advance our shared objectives of ensuring that refugees receive the appropriate supports and that Canadians continue to support refugee resettlement.
I want to assure you that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada is committed to working collaboratively with sponsorship groups so that we can continue to build on the success of this program and ensure its viability into the future. To that end, I have asked my Department to address the concerns that have been raised about the process, while meeting our obligations to protect vulnerable people and safeguard program integrity. I am confident that together with the sponsorship community, we will achieve a constructive, collaborative and effective path forward to support our common goals.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the PSR program, which we took an opportunity to highlight on the departmental Website at: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/services/refugees/40-years-psr.html
Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program
I would like to once again extend my personal gratitude for your ongoing dedication to refugee protection. Together, we have welcomed generations of newcomers who have helped build our economy and enrich our society in long lasting and enduring ways.
Yours sincerely,
Ahmed Hussen, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship


Posted May 3, 2019 BVOR Fund details


A feature article with video in the September 17 online edition of the Peace Arch News covering the visit of the sponsored Syrian familiy's visit to Holy Trinity, White Rock, September 16.

On June 10, 2018, during the North Vancouver Region's annual combined Eucharist, Diocesan Refugee Unit chair, Shannon Muir announced that the June 2 fundraiser at St. Clement raised a fabulous $16,320.95. This will go toward the estimated $27,000 needed for this year to continue to support Malis' family of four from Congo who arrived during the second week of April 2018 and three individuals who will arrive this year. These newcomers are sponsored by the North Vancouver based REST organization.

The new book RESCUE written by International Rescue Committee Chair,  David Millibrand is being touted as a must read for folks interested in refugee and newcomer ministries.

Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has communicated the following changes as of October 11, 2017

Resettled refugees are now able to apply for citizenship if they have been in Canada for 1,095 days (3 years) out of 5 years before applying. The changes will also include filing taxes for three out of five years, which will match the new physical presence requirement. Only applicants between the ages of 18 and 54 will need to meet the language and knowledge requirements for citizenship. The language requirement includes a Canadian Language Benchmark Level 4 certificate from an IRCC approved institution or a High School diploma, transcripts or a post-secondary degree or diploma.

For more information click here: Changes to Citizenship Act as a Result of Bill C-6

Refugee and Newcomer Programs and Events from Iris at MOSAIC. Lots of information and attachments

Welcoming the Stranger - Refugees Becoming Neighbours


RSTP has produced and uploaded new videos on the following topics which may of assistance to your Constituent Groups and Co-Sponsors:

·         Month 13 Planning;

·         Managing Expectations;

·         Power Imbalance; and,

·         Sponsorship Ethics.

The videos are available on RSTP’s YouTube channel and website at the links below:



 Tax Information for Newcomers:

The March 16th Webinar provided some great information for newcomers to Canada about their tax obligations and responsibilities. If you missed the webinar, don't fret! You can view the powerpoint slides of the CRA presentation here

Also, volunteer tax preparation clinics are generally offered between February and April each year at various locations across Canada, including throughout the lower mainland. Click here to find a tax preparation clinic near you. 

Thank you to the RSTP for this information. Subscribe to their newletter here to get great information like this directly to your inbox!


Refugee Response in the Diocese - article for the February 2017 issue of Topic published on the diocesan website news pages, December 16, 2016

The Executive Archdeacon announced on November 21, 2016 that Dr Shakuntala Soden has begun her work as Diocesan Refugee Coordinator. Dr. Soden brings a strong passion for refugees and a strong skill-set in the area of immigration.

Shannon Muir has accepted the Bishop's appointment as the Chair of the reconstituted Diocesan Refugee Unit (DRU). Shannon has brought considerable skills to the diocese's response to ministry with refugees.


Zakarya, the first member of a group of Syrian refugees arriving in Canada through the Diocese of New Westminster as Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH) but sponsored by a group from St. Helen’s, West Point Grey arrived from Frankfurt at 2:30pm on Thursday, October 13, 2016.

Ali Salat Bugare aka "Bukare"(to his friends) arrived September 12, 2016. He is sponsored by REST.

Good news for Alsaleh and his family and for St. Alban's, Burnably, click the link to access the story on the Burnaby Now website.


Declared by the United Nations, World Refugee Day is June 20, 2016.  Resources and information can be found through the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund, the United Church of Canada, the Mennonite Central Committee of Canada, and the Episcopal Church USA's Public Affairs Office.


The North Vancouver Regional Ecumenical Support Team (REST) is a partnership of 10 churches and individuals who have come together to support the sponsorship of refugees. The group operates in close cooperation with the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster.

Visit the R.E.S.T. blogsite for updated information and upcoming events to aid the refugee resettlement.

On December 21, 2015, Bishop Skelton announced the establishment of the Bishop's Fund for Refugee Resettlement. Click the link to learn about this exciting new fundraising initiative.


Refugee Information Session

Thursday, October 8th, the former chair Reverend Michael McGee presented a detailed and concise presentation on the diocese and refugee sponsorship with a focus on the current Syrian crisis. In a 70 minute presentation he outlined four facets of refugee sponsorship. Click to access his powerpoint presentation or download a pdf version linked below.


Refugee Unit Update

Please find below a brief Q&A document about refugees in Canada and refugee sponsorship as it relates to the diocese.




The Refugee Unit provides advice about the regulations and mechanisms involved in bringing refugees to this country under the auspices of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).

The Unit’s mandate is to inform our Anglican community of the needs of refugees around the world, and to provide information about how some of them can be helped through parish sponsorships to start a new life in Canada.

For many years parishes in the Diocese have supported refugees, often in conjunction with family members already arrived. The Unit guides the sponsoring groups through the extensive paper work and advises them about what is needed for success.

In recent years, parishes and groups of parishes have supported refugee sponsorship applications for families from Afghanistan, Colombia, and Myanmar.

Parishes who have been active in refugee sponsorship include the parishes with North Vancouver Regional Council; St. Helen, Surrey; and St. David, Delta.

The Refugee Unit calls on parishes to actively consider how they can help.

For More Information

The Unit would welcome new members, especially from parishes eager to undertake refugee sponsorships. Contact the Chair of the DRU, Shannon Muir through the diocese by email.

Contact the Refugee Coordinator

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