November 17, 2015
Dear Premier Wall and Opposition Leader Cam Broten:
At a time when an estimated 60 million people are displaced, the world needs leaders who are inspired by our common humanity rather than our heightened insecurity. We are looking for that type of leadership now in Saskatchewan.
For nearly 20 years, our volunteer group Nest has helped refugee families start a new life in Saskatoon. We know it’s a life changing process, not only for those who come, but for those who help with settlement.
We see the difficulties newcomers face, as they learn a new language, adjust to our climate, and look for employment. And we see so many ways that Saskatchewan could do more to welcome and support refugee families.
Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees, already screened by UNHCR officials, are living in refugee camps and waiting to travel to their “new homes.” Now is the time to prepare our welcome. We urge Saskatchewan’s political leaders to rise to the occasion:
Establish a Saskatchewan Welcomes Refugees Fund to support refugee settlement in the province, similar to funds already established in Ontario and British Columbia, where the governments have committed millions of dollars.
Establish a bi-partisan legislative committee on refugees to design and implement a co-ordinated strategy to welcome and settle many more newcomers to the province in the coming months and years.
Urge the federal government to fast track applications from refugees who have family members in Saskatchewan. Syrians, Iraqis, Sudanese and other people from war-ravaged countries with relatives in Saskatchewan should be allowed to travel immediately and complete the processing once they are here.
Match donations raised by Saskatchewan individuals and groups working to bring refugee families to the province.
Urge the federal government to expand the definition of family so that brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews and other family members who are seeking sanctuary from war torn countries can be united with relatives in Saskatchewan.
Allow privately sponsored refugees to access the Saskatchewan rental supplement, affordable housing and other support programs upon arrival.
Saskatchewan has the people with the desire and the capacity to welcome many more newcomers to the province. We need our political leaders to act.