Close to 200 people attended an information session at the West Vancouver United Church Monday night to find out what they can do to help Syrian refugees.
“The response has been, we must do something,” said Rev. Philip Newman. “We don’t have an option to sit by and watch people suffer. It doesn’t matter how far away they are…we need to help.”
While the details of the federal government’s plan won’t be released until Tuesday, thousands of refugees are expected to call Metro Vancouver home.
READ MORE: 16 Syrian refugees arrive in Calgary
“Refugees have been sent to the cities of Canada, the main cites that have really elaborate support networks, English or French language training systems and all of that,” said UBC geography professor Dan Hiebert.
“There have been a couple of experiments in the past of sending refugees to more middle- and smaller-level cities. We’ll see. They have two models to choose from and we’ll see what they do.”
Global News has confirmed the federal government plans to welcome women, children and families, but not single man, as they seek to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada.
“Counterintelligence experts in Canada, U.S., Germany, France all agree young women with young children present the lowest possible security risk,” said immigration lawyer Richard Kurland. “Single males from the Middle East…not only are they not coming, they’re not even going to get on the plane. They’re screened out pure and simple.”
Elsewhere, offers of help are pouring in, including from big-name developers. Daljit Thind has space for seven families right now before construction starts on a new property on Kingsway in Vancouver.
Thind, who immigrated from India, said it’s a way of giving back to a country that has given him so much.
As many as 900 refugees a day could start arriving in Canada starting December 1.
“Let’s face it, it’s not going to be neat and tidy,” said Chris Friesen of the Immigration Services Society of B.C. “It’ll be messy, but it will be tremendously worthwhile as well.”
-With files from Jill Bennett, Aaron McArthur and Christina Stevens