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What does it mean to sponsor a refugee?

A key way to help an LGBTQ refugee get accepted into Canada is to sponsor them. Private sponsorship, a distinctive Canadian achievement, is one of the ways we can help protect refugees from around the world. See a good brief overview by the Canadian Council for Refugees.

Since 1978 groups of Canadian private citizens have sponsored more than 200,000 refugees for resettlement in addition to federal government resettlement programs. Sponsors fund the first year of resettlement while the government covers health care, language training and children’s education; in the second year, refugees (who become permanent residents upon arrival in Canada) are eligible for means-tested government social welfare benefits. See a more detailed explanation here.

There are a number of different private sponsorship options. Most require commitment to supporting the refugee emotionally, practically and financially for one year. ROAR brings people interested in private sponsorship together and helps guide the group through the process of sponsoring an LGBTQ refugee. A volunteer settlement team makes a lengthy and important commitment to assist a refugee, both overseas and after arrival in Canada.

Sponsorship normally includes:

1. Financial support for the newcomer's first year in Canada, plus start-up costs such as clothing and furniture. Sometimes the federal government provides financial support, sometimes the cost is split with government, and sometimes we pay all the costs privately. ROAR works very hard at fundraising to cover any resettlement costs. Donations in kind are also important.

2. “Wrap-around” supports needed to help a refugee build a new life in Canada. We help newcomers find housing; access language training, healthcare, counselling, education, employment and other services; and obtain required documentation. We provide orientation to shopping, transportation, banking, etc., and offer emotional and social support. The latter usually involves online contact with refugees while they are waiting for resettlement to Canada. Because the application process is long and stressful, emotional support is vital.

ROAR has sponsored two refugees from the Middle East. Not too bad considering the organization formed only recently. Our aim is to sponsor as many LGBTQ refugees as possible. Find out more on our website.


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