Welcoming Refugees to Ottawa

In 1980, my family participated in the sponsorship of a refugee family from Vietnam. The sponsorship of the Vietnamese family was made possible through the congregation of Knox United Church in Nepean. We assisted in making the first meal for the family in Ottawa, my father having recently taken an “Asian” cooking class.

My father also helped with the orientation to public transit and with the school registration of the children. Shortly after arriving, the family prepared a dinner for us. Years later, they invited my parents to their daughter’s wedding reception. I was a teenager at the time but remember the experience of reaching a helping hand out to strangers.

In 2016, this time as an adult with a teenaged daughter, I had the privilege of being part of another sponsorship group, this time of a family from Syria. My link to the group of sponsors was through my women’s book club and their families. The Anglican diocese of Ottawa provided the umbrella support to many private sponsor groups, such as ours.

I assisted in orientation to public transit and extra language training. It was wonderful to see the Canadian children of our sponsor group help to prepare the rental apartment for the family and set up a room with books and toys for the Syrian children, shortly before their February 2016 arrival.

On a wonderful warm weekend in May, the Syrian family invited us to Britannia beach for a potluck picnic and served delicious Syrian food. My husband made hummus for the occasion which seemed to be a favourite of the young daughter of the family.

I hope the experience of refugee sponsorship will lead my daughter to similarly reach out in the future and extend a hand of peace whenever needed.

 

By: Allison Phillips.

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