St. Clare’s of Assisi plans to support Iraqi and Syrian family
By Aaron Guillen, Staff Reporter
Last month, a Syrian family left Lebanon with relief after a local community supported their journey to a better life in Canada. St. Clare’s of Assisi, a Coquitlam parish, has taken the family of four, the first of two, under their wings to love and support, providing $25,000 in funds for one year. The Aleid family landed in YVR on January 18, as members of the congregation waited outside the arrival doors, eager to meet the people that had so quickly made it onto Canadian soil. Interestingly enough, the events leading up to their arrival dates back to January 2015.
Last year, Darrell McLeod, chairman of the refugee sponsorship group for St. Clare’s, heard on the radio about fellow churches working together to support refugees. His interest was sparked and he mentioned the idea to a handful of people in the congregation. By May, documents were being filled out and fundraising had begun.
By November, the Surrey apartment for the Iraqi family was fully stocked with beds, dishes, furniture, and clothes. Then began the waiting game. Seeking an arrival date, conversations between the church and their MP escalated, but they provided no confirmation. Over the holiday season, donations kept pouring in from members of the community and those uninvolved with the parish. As Christmas came and went, it was truly the gift that kept on giving.
By January 11, the parish had received news about the arrival of the Syrian family, a surprise to many. Expected to arrive in YVR in one week, members of the congregation frantically assembled the second apartment.
“With only 6 days warning, St Clare’s Refugee Sponsorship program managed to rent an apartment, furnish it, buy food, and receive many donations to make Family #2 a cozy home to call their own,” states the St. Clare’s Facebook page.
“Never ending thanks to all those who have supported this venture … we never expected Family #2 to arrive before Family #1! A huge shout out to IKEA Canada for donating the queen bed, night tables, kitchen items, area carpet, and other items our refugee family required. We are so appreciative.”
“They were tired, but also thankful to be in Canada. They had Canadian flags, Canadian pins, they couldn’t be more excited to start life here,” said McLeod to Tri-City News.
The parish hopes to financially support the families with $50,000 ($25,000 each) in order to take off running. Their final fundraising push will be a concert, featuring acapella choruses and a comedian, on February 6 at the Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam.
“We’re very close to the full amount and we’re hoping to close the gap with the upcoming concert,” explained Doug Matthews, one of the leaders of the promotion committee at St. Clare’s.
The Iranian family, resettled through the Blended Visa-Office Referred Program, arrived on the evening of January 27, and consists of three children and their parents.
The arrival of the Aleids and further refugee families will be an ongoing story throughout the coming year as they settle into their homes away from home in Canada’s multicultural nation.