Nest Saskatoon supports refugee settlement in the city. Formed in 1997, Nest is a volunteer group comprised of people who think globally and act locally. As our name suggests, Nest has worked to be a “home” or safe refugee for the newcomer families we sponsor.
The impetus for establishing our refugee group arose in 1997 when a number of Nigerians sought asylum in some German Lutheran churches and were seeking permission to come to Canada as refugees. The basis for their refugee claim was that they were followers of Ken Saro-Wiwa who was arrested, tortured and executed in 1995 for efforts to hold Shell responsible for an oil spill in Nigeria. We sought to sponsor one of these persons and made contact with Canadian Lutheran World Relief, which agreed to be our Sponsorship Agreement Holder.
In the end, the Canadian government refused to allow any of these people to come to Canada and most of them were deported back to Nigeria. After we realized that we were not going to be able to bring these Nigerian refugees to Canada, we met and decided to continue to work together to sponsor other refugee families to the city.
Nest’s original mandate was to sponsor refugee women and their families. The first person Nest sponsored was a single woman from South Sudan. Margaret had lived for five years in refugee camps in Kenya, first in a refugee camp on the border between Kenya and Sudan (Kakuma) and then in a refugee camp on the Kenyan/Somali border (Dadaab). Life in both camps had been very difficult. When Margaret arrived in Saskatoon n July 22, 1999, her first question was: “Why did it take you so long to bring me?”
Nest also has sponsored single parent families from Afghanistan, Burundi, the Congo, Liberia, Colombia and Iraq.
We are currently waiting to welcome nine more refugee families: two from Pakistan, two from Syria, three from Iraq and two from Sudan. Six of these families have relatives in Saskatoon.
Margaret continues to live in Saskatoon with her extended family and is an active member of Nest. We welcome your participation and support.