Members of the community have stepped forward to form a committee to sponsor a refugee family. The committee was formed following a public information meeting

Refugees supported

A committee has been formed to bring a Syrian refugee family to Summerland.

A committee has been formed to bring a Syrian refugee family to Summerland.

The Summerland Refugee Sponsorship Group, a community-based committee, was formed last week, following an earlier meeting to discuss the need for sponsorship during the Syrian refugee crisis.

Following that meeting, 25 people expressed interest in moving forward to sponsor a family. Most were also present at the Dec. 8 meeting when the sponsorship committee was formed.

More than nine million Syrians have fled their homes since civil war broke out in that country in March, 2011. According to figures released last month, nearly 4.3 million are registered as refugees with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The steering committee consists of Doug Holmes, Ayman Kanaan, Dan Dinsmore, Mary-Anne Smirle and Al Christie.

The committee is looking at private sponsorship.

This effort will involve raising close to $30,000, but Holmes said the cost is manageable.

“Fundraising is doable,” he said. “The more difficult problems are with housing.”

Other challenges include transportation, finding an interpreter, health care, English language instruction and counselling.

The committee will work with South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services, since this organization has resources to help those settling in Canada.

Holmes said the response to the sponsorship initiative has been mostly positive, but there has also been some negative backlash.

“There’s a lot of misunderstanding about this, a lot of fear,” he said.

Earlier this year, the Summerland United Church sponsored a family of five from Syria.

The family arrived in late March.

Since that time, other churches and organizations in the Okanagan Valley have also sponsored refugees from Syria.

Last week, a family arrived in Oliver.

Three Catholic parishes in Summerland and Penticton are also in the process of bringing a refugee family to the region, although that family has not yet arrived.

On Monday evening, Summerland’s municipal council passed a resolution to provide administrative and technical support to the group.

Holmes was appointed as the council liaison to the group.


Anyone who would like to help out is asked to contact