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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

Kelowna Rockets blow 4-goal lead in overtime loss to Calgary

Captain Nolan Foote made a brief return as Kelowna drops Family Day matinee 6-5

Soccer legend Bob Lenarduzzi to speak about dementia in Kelowna

Lenarduzzi will speak at the inaugural Breakfast to Remember on Mar. 10

Kelowna RCMP arrest alleged impaired driver

The driver is facing potential charges after power pole collision

West Kelowna Warriors host Trail Smoke Eaters

The Warriors are coming from a Saturday loss against the Vernon Vipers

UBCO announces new top boss for Okanagan campus

Lesley Cormack will start in the position this summer

Kelowna’s Family YMCA opens doors on Family Day

The entire day was free for the community

Canucks acquire forward Tyler Toffoli from Kings in push for playoffs

Vancouver sends Schaller, Madden, pick to L.A.

South Okanagan woman reflects on prestigious win at Westminster dog show

“Polly” the Scottish deerhound was crowned best in breed and reserve best hound.

RCMP report woman arrested after ramming police cruiser

Suspect wanted for crimes allegedly committed in Kelowna, Salmon Arm and 100 Mile House

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Most Read