Summerland Refugee Sponsorship Group receives UN recognition

Organization has brought three families to the community

The Summerland Refugee Sponsorship Group has been recognized by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

UNHCR Canadian representative Jean-Nicholas Beuze, in a letter dated Sept. 30 to Summerland Mayor Toni Boot, thanked the District of Summerland for signing the United Nations’ Statement of Solidarity with refugees.

In the letter, Beuze acknowledges the work of the refugee sponsorship group to support the successful integration of refugee families in the community.

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“We are deeply appreciative of Summerland’s commitment to welcoming refugees through the various initiatives such as the Summerland Refugee Sponsorship Group,” he wrote. “Signing the statement goes further to show that Summerland stands with refugees and provides an example to other cities in Canada and globally that integrating refugees benefits positively local communities.”

The Summerland Refugee Sponsorship Group was formed in 2015 by a group of residents wanting to coordinate a local response to the global refugee crisis.

The group continues today as a non-profit registered charity with 130 volunteers and many more who have donated goods, services, and funds.

To date, the group has enabled three refugee families, two from Syria and one from Eritrea, to adjust to life in Canada, find employment and enjoy new opportunities for their children.

Soon the group will be welcoming a family of eight from South Sudan.

The United Nations solidarity pledge recognizes that solutions to refugee crises start at the local level through the creation of spaces where everyone can live in safety, become self-reliant, and contribute to and participate in their local community.

Summerland is the 10th Canadian municipality among 200 towns and cities around the world to have signed the Statement of Solidarity.

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