2.B Sponsors: From Mobilization to Engagement
B.7 What training and resources are available to sponsors prior to and after refugees’ arrival?
(i) Where and how do sponsoring groups receive information on private sponsorship of refugees and receive guidance and support before or during their sponsorship undertaking?
How Canada Does It
Sponsoring groups may turn to a variety of different actors for information, guidance and support. Examples include the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP), settlement agencies, local coalitions, experienced sponsors, Canadians with family abroad requiring refugee sponsorship, local immigration offices, and Sponsorship Agreement Holders.
Access to information, guidance, and support varies depending on where the sponsoring groups are located. In smaller and rural communities, in-person training supports may be less accessible than in larger urban centres. Sponsors may need to rely more on internet and telephone communications to seek out information and ask questions. Actors who may provide information, guidance, and support include:
- The REFUGEE SPONSORSHIP TRAINING PROGRAM (RSTP) provides a broad range of written resources, webinars, workshops, and direct access to the country’s lead trainers on private sponsorship of refugees. Sponsors can sign up for RSTP training sessions or contact its trainers directly via phone or email to ask any sponsorship-related questions as they prepare for the sponsored refugees’ arrival.
- LOCAL SETTLEMENT AGENCIES have vast experience in helping resettled refugees adjust to life in Canada and settlement workers are a rich source of information and experience for sponsors.
- LOCAL COALITIONS like the Coalition in Ottawa for Refugees, which is composed of experienced local sponsoring groups who meet to discuss community engagement, support for novice sponsoring groups, best practices, and sponsorship program reform. Another example is Refugee 613, a coalition of citizens, settlement agencies, sponsoring groups and community partners working to provide refugees with the building blocks of successful integration.
- AD HOC GROUPS like the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program and Lifeline Syria have formed to provide enhanced, in-person support to sponsors and refugees.
- CANADIANS WHO HAVE SPONSORED BEFORE are a vital resource for new sponsors, as they can share the human experience of sponsorship, including the positive aspects but also challenges associated with managing expectations and inter-cultural differences. Sponsorship Agreement Holders are available to provide guidance to their Constituent Groups.
- CANADIAN FAMILY MEMBERS OF SPONSORED REFUGEES are important actors to include in providing resettlement services to privately sponsored refugees even if they are not formal members of the sponsoring group. Family members can ease communications barriers and help the sponsored refugees adjust to life in Canada more easily.
- LOCAL IMMIGRATION OFFICES can provide additional support and information to sponsors and help mediate disputes among sponsors or between sponsors and refugees.
- SPONSORSHIP AGREEMENT HOLDERS ASSOCIATION: Canada funds this organization to facilitate communications between sponsoring groups on an ongoing basis, and supports an annual conference that allows for mutual exchanges of successes, challenges, and best practices between sponsors, and also with the Government. Canada also funds the Secretariat functions of the Sponsorship Agreement Holders Council, which acts as a representative body for the Sponsorship Agreement Holder community and meets on a monthly basis with officials from the Government of Canada.