Shuswap residents challenge complaints, misconceptions around refugees

Arriving with permanent resident status, families receive same benefits as other Canadians

Do refugees get a free ride at the expense of Canadian citizens?

The answer from two Shuswap citizens who have been involved with supporting refugees in Salmon Arm is an unequivocal “No!”

This despite seemingly constant complaining that the government should close the borders to refugees, that refugees are admitted without oversight, that they get a free ride and get funds that should go to Canadians only.

Cindy Derkaz, Federal Liberal candidate for North Okanagan-Shuswap, has been involved in a private capacity since the community first began to welcome refugees to Salmon Arm.

The private group she belongs to has supported four families, who were lucky to escape the Syrian civil war and might otherwise still be living in the hell of an overcrowded refugee camp in the Middle East. Final arrangements are being made for a fifth family.

Read more: Syrian refugees fear for lives at home

Read more: Shuswap’s first Syrian refugee wants world to stop dictatorship

“Basically, they get the same as a person receiving social assistance in the province in which they settle; in B.C. it’s based on the provincial social assistance rates,” she says, noting many Syrian refugees enter the country in the federal Blended Visa Office Referral (BVOR) program in which a sponsor group takes on the responsibility to make sure the family gets adequate food and housing for one year. “They arrive with permanent resident status and are eligible for the federal Canada child benefit as are all Canadian residents.”

BVOR provides funding for half a year and the sponsoring group signs a contract for the the other half. But Derkaz notes what the program includes is not sufficient to cover housing in Salmon Arm. So the support group steps up to provide further support.

“It’s the generosity of members of the community that supports the family,” she says. “There is an extensive screening process by the UN and Canadian Immigration for people coming from the camps,” she says. “If you just cross the border, you don’t get admitted. And there is very intensive health screening.”

Read more:Syrian refugee responds to racism in Canada

Derkaz says the refugees are coming from very vulnerable circumstances, hoping for what everyone does – a better future for their children.

Brian Ayotte, who was chair of the community group that banded together to provide sanctuary to Syrian refugees, says at the outset a few families had their airfare paid by Ottawa.

“Since then every family has to repay; it is a debt to the federal government,” he says. “The majority of the Syrian families are working; some may have seasonal lapses, but there is not one on the dole.”

Read more: Shuswap refugee family settles into new, more hopeful life

Ayotte debunks the theory that some Canadians are suffering because of the financial assistance refugees are receiving and warns against erecting a wall to keep them out.

“I think it’s very easy to create false stories about people that you don’t want here; I’m not gonna call it racism, but I think there are people who don’t want anyone of a different religion or colour to be here in Canada, so they generate false stories,” he says, calling the refugee crisis a global concern. “Our security is based on the global state and anything we can do for the desperate 65 million refugees is going to help us in the long run because we’re all connected.”


@SalmonArm
barb.brouwer@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Mohamed Davud and his three-year-old son, Imram, enjoy a meal. The Kurdistani family came to Canada from a refugee camp in Turkey and are enjoying their new life in Salmon Arm.-Image credit: Brian Ayotte Mohamed Davud and his three-year-old son, Imram, enjoy a meal. The Kurdistani family came to Canada from a refugee camp in Turkey and are enjoying their new life in Salmon Arm. Davud has been employed but is on temporary leave after breaking his leg. (Brian Ayotte photo)

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Coldstream celebrates spring with Easter egg hunt

The family-friendly event takes place Mackie Lake House Saturday, April 20 at 10 a.m.

Vernon woman launches sewing studio

“I know there’s a lot of people up and down the valley that would love to sew.”

Vipers win pivotal game 5 to take 3-2 series lead

Vipers beat the Trail Smoke Eaters by a score of 5-2 and will look to end the series Saturday night in Trail at 7 p.m. at the Trail Memorial Centre. Contributed: Vernon Vipers Staff

None injured in small fire near Lumby

“It looks like it was accidental, definitely nothing suspicious.”

Vernon road closed again following landslide

The road that was reopened Thursday morning was closed again Friday following geotechnical engineer report.

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

Former Okanagan teen found safe after disappearing from YVR airport

Ethan Burnett, 14, was found safe in Kelowna on March 22

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

2 fires in Victoria caused by cigarettes prompts warning from deputy fire chief

Two separate fires caused by cigarette butts were avoidable

Most Read