Canada’s Head of State, His Excellency the Right Honorable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, led Canadian municipalities in a call to action earlier this week in response to the Syrian humanitarian refugee crisis. As part of that call, representatives from 36 cities across Canada, including Saint John, attended a briefing in Ottawa on the national resettlement plan. Municipalities were also encouraged to create the connections and networks needed at the local level to ease the integration for families coming to Canada.
Mayor Mel Norton and members of the YMCA represented Saint John at the briefing. The YMCA, through its Newcomers Connection Centre, holds the federal contract to provide resettlement services to government assisted refugees and, as part of this program, has a need for strong community support.
“We need committed volunteers to make a difference in the lives of Saint John's newest community members,” says Shilo Boucher, President and CEO, YMCA of Greater Saint John. “Saint Johners have always been very welcoming and generous with their time and resources.”
The responsibility does not fall under the prevue of a single individual or organization, but the community as a whole. The City will be working steadily to champion and support the efforts of everyone involved.
“This is about leadership and working across our diverse community-focused sectors: labour, non-profit, business, government, community groups and individuals to support a national undertaking that has a very real local impact,” says Mayor Mel Norton. “As a safe and caring community, Saint John has built a reputation as a haven for people around the globe. Our City and values were built by refugees and immigrants and are upheld by our citizens today.”
Saint John can expect to receive up to 500 people, or roughly 100 Syrian families, between now and the end of February.
As more information becomes available, and as our community begins to establish connections, partnerships and plans, further updates will be provided.
For more information about the YMCA Newcomers Connections and how you can get involved, visit www.ymcanewcomers.com.