Creston Refugee Committee: yesterday and today

For the Advance

Over the years, the Creston Refugee Committee has sponsored many families. The first family came from South Vietnam 41 years ago. Since then, refugee families have come from South Vietnam and North Vietnam, Cambodia, part of the former Yugoslavia (now Bosnia), Kurdish from Iraq, Sierra Leone, Palestinian via Syria, Karen Province of Burma (now Myanmar), Kachin Province of Myanmar and Kurdish from Syria. All of them, except for the most recent arrivals are now Canadian citizens.

Now these hard working immigrants are employed as architects, doctors, foresters, pharmacists and accountants to name a few of their successes. They are all contributors to the Canadian economy. Some continue to live and work in Creston and many have moved and live all across Canada, from Toronto to Edmonton to Vancouver. One member of the first family from Vietnam is a flying instructor living in Texas.

We expect our next family, who, as Christians, escaped from Kachin province in Myanmar to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where they now marginally exist as refugees, to arrive later this year. Christians living in Kachin Province are treated brutally by the government of Myanmar and its military as are Muslims (Rohingya) in Rakhine Province.

The family is United Nations approved and has recently had medical examinations and interviews so we know they are coming shortly.

One member of this family is a long time close friend of a family that the Creston Refugee Committee brought to Canada six years ago and who are Canadian citizens and two members of which are full time employees who are highly regarded by their employer.

Over the last 41 years, the Creston Refugee Committee has raised money in various ways such as brunches, ethnic dinners, pie making and sales, catering, garage sales and manure bagging and sales. We are always in fundraising mode!

However, due to constrictions from Covid 19, fundraising has slowed to a trickle.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada requires that a refugee support group must fully support the family for their first year in Canada as they are learning the English language and getting accustomed to our rules and culture. We need almost $40,000 for rent, groceries, utilities, clothing, furniture, household goods, cleaning supplies, school supplies, medical needs, etc, to support the family that first year and we find ourselves short of this amount. After the first year, the family will support itself.

In their first year, school age children attend our schools. In addition, each family member is assisted on an individual basis by a volunteer who does English language tutoring and will sometimes provide guidance on issues of Canadian culture as issues arise. For most family members, tutoring goes on for more than that first year.

Whether they stay in Creston or move away, many become life long friends of ours. To this day, members of the first family who arrived from Vietnam return every year to visit Creston Refugee Committee members who brought them to Canada.

You ask: how can i help?

We are always looking for tutors, for people to serve as members of the Committee, helpers at the fund raising events mentioned above. However, there is also a special opportunity for those of us who this month have received the one time payment of $300 to each senior who receives the OAS supplement to cover increased costs associated with the Covid Pandemic. Some of us have reasonably financially weathered the storm and may not need some or all of this $300.

If you find you can afford to, please consider making a donation to the Creston Refugee Committee through Trinity United Church. You will receive an income tax receipt if your donation is $20 or more and your donation will help this family escape a deplorable living situation in a refugee camp.

Feel free to call:

Linda Price, Chair, Creston Refugee Committee at 250-4284632, or Dave Budney, Vice Chair at 250-2541421 to discuss your role in this most worthwhile endeavour.

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