Taking the pulse of the situation on the South Shore
Unable to remain insensitive to the global crisis of migration and the polarization of anti-immigration statements, the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM) unveiled their corporate stand regarding migrants and refugees. They accompanied their words with action by seeking the collaboration of organizations to provide a profile of the situation on the South Shore, in a context where the number of families of refugees and asylum seekers has increased exceptionally over the last two years.
“We realize the importance of becoming aware ourselves and of raising the awareness of all people to the reality being played out in the field so as to put things in perspective," said Sister Denise Riel, SNJM Provincial Animator. In the current context, the SNJM Provincial Animator for Quebec wants the citizens of the South Shore "to discover the small and large successful experiences of the various organizations as well as the challenges which we all face: migrants, refugees and we, as a host society.”
500 asylum seekers on the South Shore
Last summer, the massive arrival of people crossing the border seeking Canada’s protection necessitated the setting up of several emergency shelter sites, including the one in Boucherville, called Havre Providence. With the collaboration of the CISSS-ME Emergency Response Teams, this site welcomed nearly 500 people from August to mid-September.
During this same period, Carrefour le Moutier provided support to more than 400 people including 111 families. "We mainly supported these people so they could attain housing, material resources, food assistance, work permit applications and school enrollment," said Amalia Suarez, Project Manager for the asylum seekers at Carrefour le Moutier, who hailed the openness and the invaluable collaboration of Longueuil property owners in offering housing to these newcomers.
State sponsorship - Syrian Refugees
While Canada welcomed more than 45,000 Syrian refugees in 2015-16, Canadian state sponsorship plans to welcome 9,000 refugees in 2017 * (including 1,700 in Quebec). Admitting that the situation last year was exceptional, Nasrin Neda, a benefactor at the Maison internationale de la Rive-Sud (MIRS), emphasized the significant challenges facing refugees. "Depending on their history and circumstances, it is difficult for these refugees to become autonomous and independent within a year. Developing language skills and understanding the habits and customs of the host society are not easy for the majority of refugees, Syrians or others, who have little schooling and many of whom come from rural areas. "
Even though government assistance ceases after 12 months, MIRS continues its work with immigrant and refugee clients. To ensure this continuity, the organization diversifies its sources of funding and is constantly strengthening its bank of volunteers so as to respond to the ongoing needs. Past experience has shown that it requires time and support to enable immigrants and refugees from the state sponsorship program to take charge of their own lives and become active members of society.