Refugees find home

Five Sointula families are hoping to provide refuge for a Syrian family.

Five Sointula families are hoping to provide refuge for a Syrian family.”My husband (Kees Docter) and I

decided to do this on the spur of the moment after hearing so many sad stories about the families and what

they have lost and gone through,” said Wendy Laughlin. “We in Canada are so fortunate to have such a rich

life, even those that maybe do not have a ton of money. We feel that a place like Sointula, a bit of paradise in

this world, is a great place for a war-torn family to be able to come to heal,” Laughlin said. After they decided

this was something they wanted to do, the couple put a post on the Sointula Bulletin asking for input on how

they could go about getting a refugee family to Sointula.The couple had such a great response, they decided to

move ahead with the process through the federal government’s Group of Five program.A Group of Five (G5) is

five or more Canadian citizens, or permanent residents, who arrange to sponsor a refugee living abroad to

come to Canada. All of the group members must be at least 18 years of age and live, or have representatives,

in the area where the refugee will settle. The group must agree to give emotional and financial support to the

refugees for the full sponsorship period, which is usually one year. The group must also provide a settlement

plan. For a family of four, Laughlin explained, the sponsors need $27,000, with $7,000 needed for start up.

Donations of rent, food, clothing, etc. have a monetary value and can be deducted from the $20,000 total.”The

federal government seems to want a Group of Five to do it, (however) we came to the conclusion that it would

be better to do it as a community. So much more support for the family and, of course, helps us, too,” Laughlin

said.”Many of us have committed to in-kind donations of material goods and small amounts of cash,” said

Laughlin.Laughlin has offered the use of her home.”If we cannot find somewhere else, we will hurry and get a

suite we have in the lower floor of our house finished so they can live there,” she said.”Connie Rock from

Mitchell Bay has been a huge help in finding the forms we need to fill out and doing the GoFundme page,” she

said.”We are now at $1,860 with our gofundme (account) and another $2,110 in private donations. That makes

a total of $3,970 of the $7,000 we are trying to raise,” said Laughlin.Dr. Pam Kystrow, another member of the

Group of Five, started a web page where people can go and offer different types of donations. Both the

gofundme and webpage links can be found on the group’s Facebook page ‘Sointula Refuge Group’. The group

is currently busy with paperwork.”Things have been going a bit slow as we need to make sure we have the

paperwork in order so no delays are caused by returned, improperly-filled papers,” she said.The group is also

putting the finishing touches on the family profile. “What we have to do is fill a form out that gives the

government an idea of our town and what we can offer so that they can choose a family that will most fit our

community,” she said.”I have written on the forms so far that we do not care, (where the family comes from),

but that we understand that people from Syria and Iraq are being expedited and we want a family asap,” said

Laughlin. The group has also specified they would like a family with young children.”We do not really know how

long it will take to get a family,” she said.”We also realize that they may not stay due to the job situations on the

North Island and if that is the case, we will do our best to assist them in finding their forever home.”