It’s official – we’ve applied to have a family assigned to us!

We are delighted to be able to announce that we have officially applied to be taken into consideration when the next “release” of refugee cases is made available by  Citizenship and Immigration Canada in March.

That said …

… It might be some time before a family is assigned to us.

While there are many refugees coming into the country each month, there’s a limited number of refugees made available for private sponsorship in the “Blended Visa Office Referred (BVOR)” category that we are hoping for. Most of what you have heard about in the news about the 25,000 Syrian refugees that the government has committed to resettle by Feb 28th, 2016 are Government-Assisted Refugees – refugees that are resettled in Canada by the federal government directly, as opposed to through private sponsorship.

There is another category of private sponsorship, known as “Named Cases”. These are instances where a sponsoring group identifies a specific refugee family to be reseted. We are not pursuing a named case, because it can take many, many months, more than a year, perhaps, before the individuals are reviewed and approved by the government. The BVOR program is preferable, because with families being  partially vetted by the UNHCR, the government can complete its checks more quickly … which means a family can be resettled more quickly.

The BVOR cases that are made available for sponsorship are offered to groups across the country … so we will keep our fingers crossed that we are matched with a family soon.  We have tried to be flexible in who we have said we will support. For example, we have not said we want a family of 4, with two parents and two children; apparently this is what many groups ask for, and there are actually a limited number of families like this. Most are larger, with 5, 6, 7 or more family members.  The housing stock and the cost of living in Toronto poses some hard constraints on the size of the family we can help, but we are aiming for one that can be reasonably accommodated in a 3-bedroom apartment or house.

In any case, we will keep you posted as developments happen. Wish us luck!


We have met our initial goal of $50,000!


Our initial goal of $50,000, set before refugees started arriving in numbers, was to sponsor a family of four. As the flow of Syrian refugees has increased, we now know the majority of families coming to Canada are between 5 and 7 members.

We’ve met the basic sponsorship amount for a family of 6 to resettle in Ontario, but the cost of living in Toronto is higher than in other Ontario communities. In addition, we’ve learned there is some question as to how much financial support the government might offer for travel and living expenses.  To be prepared for this, and for potential dental and medical expenses not covered by government programs and to be able to set up our family up for every possible success, we are raising our goal by $25,000 to build a buffer to better support the resettlement of a family of 6 or 7. 

There are more than 14 million refugees of concern to the United Nations, more than 4.5 million registered from Syria alone. If any funds are left over, they will help with the sponsorship of our next family.

Again, thanks very much to those who have contributed. If you haven’t donated yet and would like to help, please go to

Temporary (and longer-term) accommodation needed! 

Before our application to sponsor a refugee family can go forward, we need to find a place for our family to stay for 2 – 6 weeks when they arrive in Toronto.

Because we don’t yet know how many are in the family we will be welcoming or precisely when they will arrive, we must wait until they get here to rent longer-term accommodation.

We might have less than a week’s notice of their arrival and a furnished temporary space with two bedrooms would be ideal, but not essential.

If you know of a house or apartment where a family of up to 6 could stay either on a temporary or longer-term basis (or both!), for rent or temporarily rent-free, please contact us at [email protected] or call Allan at 416-526-6237.

Less than $13,000 to go!

Our fund-raising efforts have continued though the month of January.  After a very generous, anonymous donation of $2,500, the latest tally now puts us at $37,700. That leaves us with less than $13,000 to go to reach our goal of $50,000.

There’s still time to give if you haven’t already!  Go to to donate to find out how. 

We are still hoping to receive matching funds from the Anglican Diocese of Toronto; but the more funds we have when we apply for our matching grant, the more funds can potentially be matched.  And the more funds we have at the end of our fundraising campaign, the more refugees we can help.

If, for example, we raise in excess of $50,000 – say, $75-$80,000 – then we will be in a position to help more than one family.  Full disclosure: we would not attempt to do two simultaneously; rather, we would look at the possibility of sponsoring a 2nd family after the first one has settled into a new home, the kids are in school, ESL classes have begun, etc.   But wouldn’t it be great if we could do that?

Our first fundraising concert is not to be missed!

Valery Lloyd-Watts (Piano)

April 15th, 8:00pm, The Church of St. Mary Magdalene

This is musical event for all ages!  Valery Lloyd-Watts, internationally acclaimed Canadian pianist, and one of the world’s most influential music educators, will introduce and perform masterpieces from the classical piano repertoire. Her unique way of relating to audiences makes music come alive, even for first-time listeners.


We are also very honoured that the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, the 28th Governor-General of Canada will introduce the concert with her own reflections on why projects like ours are so important.


Want to make an evening of it?  How about dinner before the concert?

Two marvellous local restaurants – Campagnolo and The Harbord Room – have offered concertgoers a 15% discount on the night of the concert. To take advantage of this offer, you need to get you tickets in advance. Click the following button to reserve your tickets:

Eventbrite - Valery Lloyd-Watts, Piano - A Fundraising Concert for Refugee Resettlement


A New Year, and some great new developments!

Happy New Year to you all!

Since our last update to you, our focus has largely entered around fundraising.  And we have good news on this front!pls give

  • As of January 20th, we have raised over $31,000.  We had a big bump in donations in December as a result of our pre-holiday fundraising campaigns. Thank-you to everyone who contributed!
  • If you have not yet donated, please do so now.  Donations made by Jan 31 will be matched the by Anglican Diocese of Toronto. To donate, go to Also, please share this information with those you know who might  be interested in supporting us.
  • We are planning several fundraising events in the upcoming months, including:
    • A concert series to be held at SMM.  Our first confirmed Valerydate is April 15. Internationally renowned pianist and educator Valery Lloyd-Watts will present a musical event for the whole family. Valery’s unique approach to concerts makes serious classical music accessible to all, particularly to younger people. It’s an evening not to be missed. Tickets for this pay-what-you-can event will be available for advance purchase online very shortly.
    • A silent auction to be held on May 3, also at SMM. We are looking for collector quality auction items, for example, a first edition book, original artwork, or those that offer great experiences and unusual access, for example: a week at a lakefront cottage or a house in the countryside in France, a dinner party prepared by a chef, tickets to professional sports, or performing arts, garden design advice from a landscape gardener and a gift certificate for plants. If you have something like this to offer, please contact [email protected]. Donations to the auction are tax deductible (conditions apply).

As far as preparing for our family’s arrival, we are moving forward on that front, albeit more slowly.

  • We are required to attend sponsorship training before we can officially apply to sponsor a family.  Some of us have  completed our training already; the rest of us will complete it by the end of this month.
  • Everyone has had the required police background checks done and submitted to AURA .
  • We think we have temporary accommodation lined up for our family. Since we might have as little as one week’s notice of our family’s arrival, having temporary accommodations is imperative.
  • Currently, we are still aiming for our family to arrive between early and mid-spring.


Note: this post was first published earlier today … republishing due to a technical glitch related to WordPress’ integration with Facebook.

We’re more than half-way there!

I was thrilled when I got the email from SMM treasurer Anne Todd yesterday: “Allan, attached, an update to today on gifts to date for the refugee sponsorship.”, which was followed by a small spreadsheet showing that donations since my last update to you had swelled from just over $9,000 to $27,880!  This means we are more than half-way to our fundraising goal of $50,000!

Thank-you to all of you who have contributed so generously to our campaign so far.  We still have a ways to go yet, but with this amount raised, we are ready to ask AURA to start the wheels turing to connect us with a family.  Please continue to tell friends and colleagues about our campaign: post something to Facebook (along with the URL, Twitter, email your friends and family; in short, please do whatever you can to spread the word about what we’re doing.

In January, our team will be attending a training class with AURA to learn the ins and outs of what it means to be a sponsorship team, and we will be busy making plans for additional fundraising events, and our family’s arrival this spring (we hope).

Again, thanks for your continued support.