Nfld. & Labrador

Torbay organizing group to help town sponsor refugee family

Geoff Gallant says he's hoping to put a committee together to figure out how the town can sponsor a family to come to Torbay, and hope other municipalities follow.

'I know that this community has room for one more person,' says deputy mayor

Geoff Gallant, deputy mayor in Torbay, says his community has room for one more family and he hopes other municipalities will come up with similar plans to sponsor a refugee family to come to Newfoundland and Labrador. (CBC)

Torbay's deputy mayor is looking to get a group together so the town can sponsor a refugee family to come to the Newfoundland community.

Geoff Gallant said, like many others, he was moved to do something to help with the refugee crisis overseas after seeing a photo of a drowned Syrian toddler.

Gallant brought the subject up with a number of people and realized there was a fair amount of support to form a committee to bring a family to Torbay so he decided to talk to local organizations that help refugees to see what a municipality could do.

We're not trying to take on anything that we can't handle and I know that this community has room for one more person.- Geoff Gallant

"It's very topical right now so it was on the tip of a lot of people's tongues here in Torbay and as soon as I put out the call for volunteers to form this regional committee to sponsor a single family, I've got probably about a dozen responses already from people wanting to help," he said.

He added there wasn't any real reluctance to help, but there are some who criticize his plan.

"Reserve final judgment on the initiative we're trying to do. We haven't even formed the committee yet so we don't know what type of shape this is going to take," said Gallant.

"I'm really optimistic that once we put the volunteer committee in shape that everything else is going to fall into place for donations and who knows what, how things are going to look."

Geoff Gallant says he's received at least a dozen responses of people interested in a committee forming to help bring a refugee family to Torbay. (CBC)

However, Gallant said he isn't deterred and intends to bring his idea to a Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador conference to get other communities looking at the idea.

"I think it's important as local leaders that we can kind of step up and do our part," he said.

"I don't think that helping these refugees or a single refugee family belongs to any one group or another."

According to Gallant, estimates of the financial commitment on the town's part doesn't change his mind.

"One of the most important things to note — lots of people who are kind of criticizing it don't have all the information — is that we're not trying to set up a refugee camp or sponsor a million people to come here," he said.

"We're not trying to take on anything that we can't handle and I know that this community has room for one more person, so I'd like for us to get together and show the world what we're made of and help out one child or one family that really needs help right now."

Gallant added the logistics can be sorted out in future, once the committee is actually put together and plans can be made.