Cardinal Thomas ollins speaking to reporters at St. Michael's Cathedral February 29th. His sponsorship means a family of Iraqi Christian refugees should be in Canada before the end of April. Emanuel Pires, Archdiocese of Toronto

Iraqi refugees expected in Toronto shortly following Cardinal Collins sponsorship

  • March 6, 2012

The Iraqi family sponsored by Cardinal Thomas Collins is in the final stretch of its long road to refuge. The Iraqi Christian refugees should be in Canada before the end of April thanks to an offer of sponsorship by Collins.

Members of the archdiocese of Toronto administrative staff have raised the money, drawn up a 15-page settlement plan and gathered together a hope chest to make sure the family will find a warm welcome in Toronto.

The office workers have come together to take full responsibility for the refugees, said Martin Mark, executive director of the archdiocese of Toronto’s Office for Refugees.

“You find people who are very committed, very, very serious,” he said. “It’s really good to see that the people are so prepared.”

For the last two years the family — who Mark has asked that The Register not name so as to prevent any complications in the process — has shared a small, bare apartment in a poor neighbourhood of Beirut, where they have waited patiently for an opportunity to restart their lives in Canada. A year ago the Office of Refugees matched them up with Collins.

All that remains is for the family to pass a final medical and clear security and criminal background checks — a process that normally takes six to eight weeks.

The processing times for the family has been typical for Iraqi refugees, said Mark.

Mark interviewed the family in Beirut prior to selecting them for private sponsorship.

“I was really impressed with the youth in the family,” recalled Mark. “They are anxious to find peace and find opportunity where they can show they want to work, they want to build, they want to create a future.”

There are now 160 parishes in the GTA participating in the archdiocese’s refugee sponsorship program, which has been a priority for Collins.

“He’s not only telling us what to do, but he does the same,” said Mark.

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