Nova Scotia

Syrian refugee arrivals imminent in Cape Breton

Community volunteers say they have very little information about the Syrian families coming their way, even though they could be arriving within a matter of days.

'We're ready. Hopefully it'll be sooner rather than later,' volunteer says

Stephen Read speaks to CBC's Information Morning about efforts of a Marion Bridge group to sponsor a Syrian refugee family. (Hal Higgins/CBC)

Community volunteers say they have very little information about the Syrian families coming their way, even though they could be arriving within a matter of days.

"We really don't know our families," said Stephen Read of Marion Bridge.

"It's the government that selects them. We really won't know much about them until they arrive."

What Read, and the nine-member group that he heads, do know is that the family consists of a 33-year-old man,  his 25-year-old wife and four children ranging from eleven months to 7 years.

When they arrive in Marion Bridge, they will move in with Read and his wife temporarily to make the transition to a new life more comfortable.

'We jumped in pretty quick'

"We're still fundraising for our group," he said. "We jumped in pretty quick." 

In fact, the volunteers made the decision to sponsor a refugee family before they collected all the money they will need. Read and his wife contributed $12,000 of their own money.

The group decided to go ahead because "nothing was going to happen until someone put in an application and put a little bit of money on the table," Read said.

Others have come forward to offers to help with translation, settling the family into the community and school and assisting the adults find work.

Meantime, an volunteer group in Port Hood led by Joe Morris has collected more than $60,000 dollars to help re-settle another family of six.

The response has been "fantastic" from one end of Inverness County to the other, Morris said.

'We're ready'

The family will be moving into a house in Southwest Mabou thas been donated to them for a year.

Funds for the Syrian families are cost-shared 50-50 by the community volunteer groups in Marion Bridge and Port Hood and the government.

The other Cape Breton sponsoring group in the North Sydney area has raised all the money itself.

Neither the Marion Bridge nor Port Hood group has information on the exact date of the families' arrival.

"All coming about the same time from what I can understand," Read said, while Morris said his sources tell him it could be as early as this week.

"We're ready," Morris said. "Hopefully, it'll be sooner rather than later."

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