Church wants refugees fast tracked

Fairview United concerned over year-long wait to bring Syrian family to Canada


A North Toronto church is frustrated by the lengthy wait to bring over a Syrian refugee family they are sponsoring.

Kathleen Magladry, head of the committee at Fairlawn United Church that plans to sponsor a Syrian mother and three daughters to come to Canada, says they’ve hit road blocks in expediting the 12-month wait since learning the family may be in danger.

The family currently lives in Lebanon, but the mother is facing deportation back to Syria, where the church says she is “blacklisted” because of her humanitarian work there with the United Nations and Amnesty International for whom she documented human rights abuses.

“That’s the reason we think she’s in imminent danger,” Magladry said. “Secondly we think the situation in Beirut … is very dangerous for a single woman.”

The family fled to Lebanon after the woman’s husband and father of her three children was killed in front of them by a sniper as he drove a van full of bread to their community. That was January of 2013.

Magladry said members of the church have sent and made hundreds of emails and phone calls trying to find a way to expedite the process, and as of early October are awaiting a reply from the operations department of Immigration Canada.

But, she says, a 12-month wait is just too long.

“We’re saying it’s a vulnerable family — it’s four females who are in danger,” she said. “We would like the case to be expedited faster than 12 months.”

The church’s journey to bring a Syrian family to Canada began in January of this year. By May, they had enough money to sponsor a family for its first year. Two months later, 193 pages of paperwork was completed for citizenship and immigration, followed a month later by the sponsorship application being approved.

The mother in the family has a masters degree in anthropology and a diploma in social work, is an experienced community worker and speaks and writes English.

Her 21-year-old daughter completed her first year of university before they fled Damascus. She also speaks and writes English. The two other daughters are eight-year-old twins who are learning English and attending a school in a camp for refugee children.

The mother continues to work with other refugees and women in desperate situations, the church says.



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Posted: Oct 13 2015 9:00 am
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto