Southwestern Manitoba town aims to welcome three refugee families

Another Manitoba community is opening its doors to Syrian refugees.

New committee formed in Killarney, Man. to start fundraising soon

The town of Killarney, Man. is aiming to welcome three refugee families. (Angela Johnston/CBC)

Another Manitoba community is opening its doors to Syrian refugees. 

A campaign has started in Killarney, Man. with the hope of bringing three families into the town, which is located 77 km south of Brandon. 

Eight members now sit on a recently-formed steering committee. Laura Rowley is one of them.

"I think it's great," she said of the idea of bringing new people to town. "I've lived abroad and I think it's really great to see different cultures and different languages." 

Rowley has lived in several countries including Papua New Guinea, Japan, Nepal, Vietnam and Portugal. 

"It's going to be great as we teach to also be learners," she added. 

"I believe it will be life changing, not only for those families who can come here and get out from the refugee camps," Maria Szabone said. Szabone is a local church leader also on the committee. "But also this community because we learn different cultures and to help others and learn other ways of life."

The group doesn't yet have a fundraising goal in mind but are already starting to plan. Szabone said the Municipality of Killarney-Turtle Mountain has given the group their support and has agreed to collect monetary donations. 

She said they have also been in contact with Westman Immigrant Services and the Mennonite Central Committee.

For Szabone, the campaign has a personal connection. She moved to Killarney in 2012 from Hungary. 

"I know what it means to move to another country," she said. "As far as our experience, we've really found Killarney very welcoming and supporting."

"People here are really willing to help." 

She's hoping she can also give more people the chance to live in the community and have the same experience she did. 

Rowley's experiences moving overseas are also part of her drive to help. 

"For me, part of it is I've lived overseas. But I've always had an option of coming back," she said. "There are generations where it's the third generation being born into a refugee camps."

"We can help that. We can change the trajectory of a family's life by opening our doors."