Nearly five years ago the congregation at St. John the Divine Anglican Church embraced Ralph Currie and his wife, whose family were Tibetan refugees then living in India, and worked for years accumulating donations to help the Curries bring their family members here to Quesnel.
We were eager and excited to be involved in bringing refugees to Canada for a new start in a new land. Lots of fundraising activities and hard work brought in money to bring the dream alive for the little family so far away.
In 2015, Janet Reinsdorf, a Lay Minister at St. John’s, was thrilled to meet the parents and their little boy while travelling in India, assuring them that they would soon be in Canada. Just a couple of years later came the rejections from Canadian Immigration Authorities necessitating the church raise yet more money to fight the court battles, which they repeatedly lost.
As a congregation, we were heartbroken when the final decision came down. Our refugee family would remain in India.
At the Annual General Meeting last February, parishioners grappled with the issue of what was to be done with the money in the bank account designated for the refugee family. As usual in such a situation, a committee was appointed to find a solution. That committee, made up of Chair Kay Honour, Margot Rose, and Janet Reinsdorf got to work.
At the first meeting it was reaffirmed that because people had given money for refugee relief, the money must be used for that purpose.
The committee then set to work, exploring all the options, finally bringing back to the council a proposal that St. John’s would work with the Diocese of Kootenay to find a refugee family needing funding. Preferably, this family would be settled in B.C.
After much exploration, the committee finally connected with the Rev. Elizabeth Huether, the co-ordinator of refugee sponsorship for the Diocese of Kootenay, and were told of a family of five from Iraq, currently living in Thailand.
This news seemed to be the answer to our quest. Last week, the committee recommended to the church’s council that our funds go at once to the Diocese of Kootenay for the sponsorship of the family from Iraq. The council wholeheartedly agreed. St. John’s treasurer, Dale Carlson, made the transfer of funds early last week.
The good news is that the family, a set of parents with three young children, will arrive in Kelowna on Dec. 13 and, with the help of our fund of nearly $9,500, they will have a place to live upon arrival. Our hope is to have some personal contact with this family as they settle in to their new country, Canada.