Refugee family expected to arrive in Stouffville

After two years, members of two Stouffvile churches think they are getting closer to bringing a refugee family of six from Iraq to York Region.

The family from Mosul, Iraq, whose name cannot be used for security reasons, is expected to arrive in Canada this summer.

Eastridge Evangelical Missionary Church and Springvale Baptist Church decided to sponsor the family through their Stouffville Help and Awareness for Refugees and the Exiled (SHARE) program. The family is currently in Jordan.

Eastridge volunteer Conny Chubbuck, 37, is on the Homemaking and Social Needs committee. The committee  is in charge of looking for leisure activities that the family would enjoy and find culturally acceptable.

“The best part is that after many ups and downs… we are still expecting the same family,” says Chubbuck. “We’ve got to know a little bit about them and we care about them.”

The family has a father, 52, a mother, 52, two older sons, 20 and 21, a younger daughter, 13 and an aunt, 54.

“A lot of times when you sponsor a family you can’t help them until they actually arrive here,” Chubbuck says.

The churches are able to help the family financially while they’re in Jordan, which is fortunate because the adults in the family are unable to work because they don’t have work visas.

Before applying to be sponsors, Eastridge and Springvale each held fundraisers because they needed to have the funds to support the family for a year, once they arrive, before the churches could apply to be community sponsors.

Collectively, they raised about $67,000, Chubbuck says.

Then, the family had to apply for refugee status, go through interviews with Canadian visa officers and will have to pass their security checks and health exams.

However, there is no guarantee or firm date for when the family will be approved. She says the churches could get news of the family’s approval “anywhere from four weeks from now to who knows when.”

Roughly 25 people from the two churches are involved in the process, says Chubbuck.

Each person who will interact with the family has to complete an online Plan to Protect course by the end of March.

Plan to Protect is an online company that provides organizations, like churches, with training courses that outline what to do and what not to do around vulnerable people, such as refugees.

Chubbuck says she decided to volunteer two years ago as she followed the news during the Syrian refugee crisis. She recalled learning about refugees taking boats across the Mediterranean Sea to escape to Europe.

“You would see that they were drowning, that children were drowning in the Mediteranean because they were just running for their lives,” Chubbuck says.

“So, to me that’s just so horrific. Having young children myself, like, it’s just unimaginable that families have to go through that kind of life and have no place to go. So, it was very, very clear to my husband and me that we wanted to be a part of [the SHARE program] and do what we can.”