refugee sponsorship

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Four decades of welcome

Group photo from a picnic held at Willowgrove Camp in August 1979. Harriet Dick is pictured front left. (Photo courtesy of Harriet Dick)

Harriet Dick, back right, and son Alan, back left, host a refugee family in the Dicks’ backyard in Toronto. (Photo courtesy of Harriet Dick)

A Vietnamese couple’s wedding in 1983, to which Nicholas and Harriet Dick were invited, a signal of their ongoing friendship. The Dicks played a big role in further refugee efforts, including helping to settle a very large extended family of Kosovars. (Photo courtesy of Harriet Dick)

A horse-and-wagon ride at Willowgrove Camp in August 1979. (Photo courtesy of Harriet Dick)

Toronto United Mennonite Church was the first church in Canada to receive privately sponsored “boat people” who were fleeing Vietnam and Laos during the chaos of the Vietnam War. 

Consider it (re)settled

MCC representative Victor Neumann, second from left, in Songkhla, Thailand, with Vietnamese Boat People. Mothers of the pictured children were abducted by pirates. In response to the refugee crisis following the end of the Vietnam War, in 1979, MCC was the first agency to sign a private sponsorship agreement with the Government of Canada, leading hundreds of Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches in Canada to sponsor and resettle thousands of refugees across the country. (All photos courtesy of MCC)

More than 12,500 refugees have been resettled in Canada by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) since it negotiated an agreement with the government on March 5, 1979. This historic agreement established the framework for private agencies to sponsor more than 327,000 refugees for resettlement in Canada in the last 40 years.

'Everything is possible'

Alma Darweesh, left, Reem Younes, Krista Neustaedter Barg and Brian Darweesh at Younes and Darweesh’s citizenship ceremony. (Photos courtesy of Reem Younes)

For Reem Younes and Brian Darweesh, everything seems possible now that they’re citizens of Canada.

Originally from Syria, Younes and Darweesh moved to Winnipeg in 2015 as privately sponsored refugees, welcomed by a Mennonite community there.

Reaching out together

Family and friends gather together to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Alkhanous family’s arrival in Canada, at the home of Zakia Hamdani. (Photo by David Brubacher)

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Many people will remember seeing the picture in September 2015 of the three-year-old Syrian refugee, Alan Kurdi, whose body was washed up on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. And for a minute, or maybe two, many wondered what they could do.

Helping the stranger and connecting with the neighbour

Some church members and the refugee family in their new home in March 2018. Pictured from left to right: Lois Braun, Heritier Munezero, Claudine Uwimpuhwe, Siggi Holzhaeuer, Katherine Morgan, Speciose Nyiramugwaneza, Emmanuel Iranshubije, Gordon Bueckert, Eileen Scharfenberg and Dave Martens. (Photo by Cornie Thiessen)

When Sterling Mennonite Fellowship received an invitation from St. Vital Evangelical Mennonite Church (EMC) to partner in sponsoring a refugee family, it felt like an answer to prayer.

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