2017/08 Report to Diocesan Council

Diocesan Refugee Committee     Report to Diocesan Council     August 2017

The Diocesan Refugee Committee continues to be active, meeting approximately once every 6 weeks.

The Rev. Dr. Jan Bigland-Pritchard is the incoming Refugee coordinator for the diocese.  An refugee office has been established for the refugee ministry at the Synod office and is equipped with a desk, file cabinets and a laptop computer.

Jan and I have been meeting regularly to prepare her for the position and she also attended the SAH meetings, RSTP training, PWRDF Refugee Network meeting and CCR conference in Edmonton in May/June.  Jan will begin her position, which is 1 day per week on December.

The new email for the refugee ministry is

For 2017, the Diocese of Saskatoon is allotted 45 spaces (persons) for applications.

So far this year, we have submitted applications for 8 refugees, are working on applications for 33 others.  We have many more requests from many countries and from local families.  We will certainly be submitting our 45 allocations for this year.

The diocese will be invited to sign a new sponsorship agreement for 2016.  There will be a number of changes including more oversight of the settlement process in the new agreement.  Barring any unforeseen changes, we are planning to sign the agreement and continue to support refugee sponsorship.

We have had (and continue to anticipate) refugee arrivals.  Included in that is the anticipated arrival of the Al-Anbagi family (Sponsored by St. John’s Cathedral) which we have been trying to get here since 2011.  They have been refused, had a successful appeal of the refusal, have been accepted and subsequently had their file lost.  Their arrival is planned for August 23rd in Toronto.

On August 20th, an event is planned for sponsors, family-links and SAH representatives will have the opportunity to meet Jan and here a bit about the plans for our SAH in the future.  The event is at 5:00 p.m. at St. John’s Cathedral.  Diocesan council members are welcome.

As per the new Sponsorship Agreement and the fact that the refugee ministry is now a funded ministry, it has been decided that we will be charging a small fee to family links and sponsors for the training, oversight and completion and submission of forms.  The fee will be $100 - $250 per application and will begin when the new agreement is signed


For more information about anything in the report, please contact me at (306) 343-6791 or at


Respectfully submitted by:  Klaus Gruber, on behalf of the Diocesan Refugee Committee.


2017/04/20 Blanket Making Project

St. John’s Cathedral was very much involved in this project, both in planning organizing and implementing.  We had a blanket making session at the cathedral where two Syrian families joined us to make blankets for the asylum seekers.

Click here to read more about the project.


Here are some numbers of asylum seekers (refugee claimants) in Canada since 2001

This includes Port of Entry claims as well as those who claim inside Canada.


2017/03/09 Welcoming Refugees

Welcoming refugees at our borders: a moral and legal imperative

The Canadian Council for Refugees urges Canadians to respond positively to refugee claimants who have been arriving at our borders in increased numbers in recent months. We have the opportunity and the obligation to give protection to people whose lives are at risk and who come with the urgent hope that Canada will offer them security. Only a tiny percentage of the millions of refugees in the world will ever make their way to Canada: but for those who do, we must live up to our reputation as a haven for refugees by giving them a warm welcome.

Although there has been an increase in refugee claims, the numbers remain well within the range of what Canada has seen in the past. After a period with unusually low numbers of claims, Canada is returning to the more traditional rates. Even if numbers were to go higher in 2017, we are confident that Canadians are fully able to meet the challenge, building on past experience and taking advantage of the positive energy around welcoming Syrian refugees.

Numbers of refugee claimants annually 2000 - 2015 

We must respond because refugee claimants have an even higher call on us than resettled refugees, including the 40,000 Syrians welcomed in recent months. This is because we have legal obligations towards claimants who arrive at our borders. Under international law and as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canada must not send refugees back to face persecution. This is the central principle of the Refugee Convention, which was carefully crafted after the Second World War. Some people have wrongly spoken of refugee claimants arriving “illegally”, but in fact they are asserting their legal right to seek asylum. It is Canada that would be acting illegally if it denied refugee claimants the right to be heard, or sent refugees back to face persecution.

Canada acts honourably when we protect additional refugees through resettlement, by which we select refugees from a third country. However, our primary and legal responsibility lies towards the protection of refugees at our borders or on our territory.

All refugees deserve the same welcome, whether they are resettled to Canada or they make their own way to our borders in search of asylum. We must not make distinctions between human beings in need of protection.

Because of Canada’s geographic location, we receive very few refugee claimants compared to many other countries. In 2015, Germany received close to 900,000 refugee claimants. Lebanon hosts a million Syrian refugees. The UNHCR anticipates the number of Burundians fleeing to neighbouring countries will reach 500,000 in 2017. In this context, the numbers of refugee claimants in Canada seem very modest (the highest number in a year was under 45,000 in 2001).

Refugee claims in Canada vs Germany 2015

The CCR commends the many communities, organizations and individuals that are already working to ensure a warm welcome is offered to refugee claimants. In some centres, there are meetings to plan and coordinate. People involved in private sponsorship are stepping up to support refugee claimants, as are settlement agencies and faith communities. Among those responding are people who themselves came to Canada as refugees. 

Unfortunately community efforts are particularly necessary as the federal government does not fund settlement services for refugee claimants: the CCR urges the government to extend eligibility to cover refugee claimants.

9 March 2017


2017/03/01 Refugee Committee Report