2.B Sponsors: From Mobilization to Engagement
B.1 How can private actors be mobilized to support refugee resettlement?
(iv) What supports are available to maintain community interest and engagement?
How Canada Does It
Communities may feel more encouraged to sponsor refugees knowing that there are experienced support networks in place they can turn to (see 2.B.1(i)). For example, Canada funds the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP) to support Canadian sponsors and individuals interested in private sponsorship through regular public education workshops. RSTP trainers are available to help sponsors navigate challenges before and during the sponsorship undertaking period to ensure refugees integrate successfully. A network of settlement agencies employs experienced settlement counsellors who not only help refugees integrate into Canadian society, but can also counsel sponsors on how to help refugees access these services.
Further, advocacy organizations often engage in public information and awareness campaigns to encourage ongoing engagement in private sponsorship and support for increased refugee resettlement. Many organizations have also sprung up organically to fill support needs where required.
Finally, individuals who already have sponsorship experience are often the most powerful advocates for private sponsorship, as they are able to share their deeply personal and life-changing experiences of sponsorship with their communities and encourage others to take part in the program.
Communities may feel more encouraged or less overwhelmed to sponsor refugees if they are aware of the support systems in place. Canada funds the RSTP to facilitate regular workshops across the country to educate Canadians about Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees program. The workshops range in topics from “What is sponsorship/How can you sponsor a refugee?” to guidance on completing the application forms, sponsorship ethics, and settlement and integration. RSTP trainers provide ongoing support over the phone or via email to Canadians navigating the sponsorship process or encountering challenges once refugees arrive. RSTP is a vital resource to ensure that Canadians are informed and sponsors feel fully supported as they help a new family adjust to life in Canada.
Numerous advocacy organizations also often engage in public information and awareness campaigns to encourage ongoing participation in private sponsorship and support for refugee resettlement. “Refugees Welcome Here!” is an example of a recent public awareness campaign launched in January 2016 by Amnesty International and the Canadian Council for Refugees. The campaign is designed to encourage Canadians to welcome more refugees, to achieve more fairness in systems affecting refugees, to foster more welcoming communities across Canada, to debunk myths about refugees, and to emphasize refugees’ contributions to society
Many volunteer organizations have also sprung up to fill support needs where required. For example, the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program was founded in October 2016 to mobilize lawyers across Canada to provide pro bono support to sponsors needing help in filling out the sponsorship application forms.