LCC staff joins CLWR and ELCIC to resettle Syrian family in Winnipeg
Staff members from Lutheran Church–Canada joined with staff from Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR) the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) late Tuesday night at the Winnipeg International Airport to welcome a Syrian refugee family to Canada.
The family’s arrival yesterday was a happy surprise because they were originally expected to make the journey to Canada in April. A phone call last Friday afternoon informed CLWR staff that the family would be landing in Winnipeg in only four days.
The family’s sponsorship is a joint partnership between the three national offices and LCC’s Central District office.
Last fall, CLWR staff members began collecting pledges to sponsor one person. CLWR extended the invitation to the two churches to join the initiative, making it possible to bring an entire family to Canada.
The husband and wife were English teachers in Syria and they have two young sons under the age of nine. The family fled to Jordan after the Syrian conflict began and were living in the capital city of Amman before being connected to CLWR. A relative of the family was also at the airport to greet them and provide them with a place to stay for their first night in Winnipeg.
“It is one thing for us to hear news stories about efforts in general to welcome refugees to Canada,” said LCC President Robert Bugbee. “But I am so grateful to the staff of Canadian Lutheran World Relief here in Winnipeg for inviting my co-workers and me to get involved with a specific family of refugees now preparing to make this their home. CLWR leaders are not merely talking about the importance of work with refugees; they are helping us actually do it right here on the ground.”
“LCC staff embrace this as a wonderful adventure,” he continued. “I think we’ll learn things we couldn’t learn any other way. And I won’t be surprised if it makes us feel the urgency to lay it on the hearts of our people and churches across the country to begin helping a specific family in their own communities. This project makes the challenges and the joys of refugee resettlement really come to life. Thank you, CLWR!”
With just a few days’ notice of the family’s arrival, there was a scramble over the weekend to make final arrangements for an apartment, furniture and household items, a phone and groceries to last for the first few days.
Arrangements quickly fell into place thanks to CLWR’s experience in this area. CLWR has been a Sponsorship Agreement Holder with the Canadian government since the 1970s and has been facilitating refugee sponsorships for decades for groups of private Canadians.
“My colleagues and I felt it was time to ‘walk-the-walk’ and become sponsors ourselves,” says Robert Granke, CLWR’s executive director. “I have visited Jordan and met Syrian mothers and fathers who are desperate to resettle in a safe place where they can work, educate their children, and become part of a community. We knew we could support a family in this way.”
This is the first time national office staff from the LCC, CLWR and the ELCIC have joined together to sponsor a refugee family.