Here are the incredible people who comprise the MURP team, along with their reasons for why they’ve decided to participate in this project:
Like so many other Canadians I was galvanized by the newspaper photo, and questioned what anyone could do in face of an overwhelming situation. I had been involved with SMM’s previous refugee committee in sponsoring a young refugee couple, and was deeply impressed by their resilience, their initiative and their appreciation in coming to our country and starting a new life here. That positive experience moved me to volunteer again when SMM, with my neighbourhood community (my family lives on Euclid), initiated the sponsorship of another refugee family. It seemed the right thing to do, a way for many people to contribute in a meaningful way.In my work as an occasional teacher, I see many recent immigrant children learning as they struggle to understand the unfamiliar. I want to lend my experience and support to help them meet these challenges and integrate into our society. I have learned that this sponsorship process is a reciprocal relationship, where together with the refugees, we work to create a more peaceful world.
One day, six years ago, I realized that it was no longer possible to live without fear for my own life in my motherland, Russia, and, regardless of how attached I was to my friends and vibrant Moscow life, I had to run away from it for a safer ground. It was a heartbreaking experience which would have been even more dramatic without support from a few Canadian friends. Now, remembering this experience every day, I feel privileged to be part of this amazing group and be able to help someone, who is walking the road I already made through.
Like everybody else I was watching the pictures of desperate refugees marching across fields or risking their lives crossing the Mediterranean using little boats, all in a search for a safe heaven…and then I saw the body of the little child Alan Kurdi and new that the time to act and do something had come.
I feel compelled to offer the same welcome to others as Canada offered to me and my family when we immigrated, With millions caught up in the worst refugee crisis since World War II, I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with MURP to do what I can to help.
Our country was built and is enriched by those who came here for a better life. We are going to be joined by the victims of twenty first century strife that has created the greatest migration of people fleeing for their lives since the end of World War Two. Canada’s decision to actually help people to come here takes us beyond mere hand wringing about what is happening in Syria. The decision to put together a Committee based at SMM gave me an opportunity to do something concrete in answer to the timeless question Who is my Neighbour. I am inspired by the work and dedication of the Committee to make a difference for a family we so look forward to meeting.
Allan Risk (co-chair)
For me, at least, it was “the picture” that moved me to action. Over the past 3 years, I had been through the resettlement of two refugee families, and was feeling a little bit of “sponsorship fatigue”, and thought I might take a year off from this kind of work. But when I came downstairs one morning, opened the newspaper, and saw that picture of little Alan Kurdie on that beach in Turkey, I knew I had to do something.
Elizabeth Rogers-Salvaterra (co-chair)
For me, the impetus to get involved with a refugee sponsorship group did not arise out of a single incident, but grew slowly over time. I have responded with growing alarm, over the last year or so, to the increasingly isolationist and fearful rhetoric that I hear in the news, from politicians both in Canada and (even more) in the United States, and sadly, from my own friends and family. Both my reason and my faith tell me that the best way to interact with my fellow human beings is with greater understanding, greater acceptance, greater forbearance, and I try, with admittedly variable success, to apply these approaches both theoretically and practically. Finally, after months of speaking out against the rhetoric of fear online and in person, I decided that speaking out was not enough–I needed to act. I am very pleased to be co-chairing the Manning-Ulster Refugee Project, and feel great satisfaction to be working toward a real, concrete solution for a specific family in need.
That question: ‘To join or not join these efforts?’ was easy to answer – I believe, that if there is a chance to save someone’s life or help to make it better, I should do it regardless of a nationality or any other characteristics of people who are in need of help. That’s why the fact that ‘our’ refugees were supposed to be from Syria made no difference to me. If you can help to someone in need, you should.