UNB forum seeks volunteers to help Syrian refugees

A public information session on the refugee resettlement process at the University of New Brunswick Tuesday night heard about the complexity of bringing Syrians to Canada, and the rewards.

'We get to be part of the process that gives them the opportunity to raise their families here'

Since November, more that 23,000 Syrian refugees have been brought to Canada. (CBC)

A public information session on the refugee resettlement process at the University of New Brunswick on Tuesday night heard about the complexity of bringing Syrians to Canada, and the rewards. 

The forum, which was sponsored by the university and the Gregg Centre for the Study of War and Society, featured a number of speakers, including Major Drew Willis of the 2nd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment, based at CFB Gagetown.

Major Drew Willis of the 2nd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment, based at CFB Gagetown, said helping with resettlement was a "phenomenal experience." (CBC)
"You have a very complex process of bringing a lot of people over," said Willis.

Willis said he and his soldiers were deployed in Jordan and Lebanon, where he spent 40 days overseeing "biometric collection, which is taking fingerprints and photos of the various refugees so they can be catalogued as part of the larger immigration process."

The soldiers also processed the reams of paper work necessary before the refugees could leave for Canada. Willis said it was a "phenomenally rewarding" experience.

I want to make them welcome here in Fredericton.- Patricia Ellsworth, volunteer

"You know that you're helping people that have gone through horrible things, in some cases, and they're looking for a safe place to raise their families," he said.

Patricia Ellsworth attended the forum looking for more information about the resettlement process and hopes to volunteer as a tutor.

Ellsworth is a bilingual retired teacher who has worked with refugees in the past, when she helped settle newcomers from Burundi.

Patricia Ellsworth, a retired Fredericton teacher, hopes to volunteer as a language tutor. (CBC)
"I think it's a very important thing, what we're doing to help the Syrian people," said Ellsworth.

"I want to make them welcome here in Fredericton and whatever I can do in that process, I'd like to be able to do it." 

Finding volunteers here is only part of the effort when it comes to resettlement.

On Tuesday, the federal government revealed almost half of all Syrian refugees now in Canada are without a permanent home. 

The government has now put out a tender for Fredericton and Oromocto hotels to house 450 Syrian refugees.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.