Sackville group raises $30,000 in a week to sponsor a refugee family
SACKVILLE, N.B. – The Sackville Refugee Response Coalition has raised enough money to sponsor their first family and will submit their application this week.
Keith Nicholson is a member of the group and a student at Mount Allison University. He says he can’t believe the money was raised so quickly.
“I was talking to some of my friends saying, ‘Oh it’s going to take a year or two to raise that kind money,'”
he said. “To see that it happened basically overnight is just amazing.”
University Chaplin and head of the SRRC John Perkin says within 24 hours of starting a fundraising campaign, the group raised $30,0000 to sponsor a Syrian refugee family.
“Enough extra funds had come in that we are now ready to sponsor that first family,” he said.
He says donations came in from all across the town, residents, businesses, even from cash-strapped students.
Now the goal is to raise up to $120,000 to sponsor several more families.
“We are setting up donation boxes around campus and we are also passing out pamphlets and flyers regarding some events that we are having,” said Nicholson.
“If we are able to support three families, possibly even four, they come to support to each other in town and they are able to help each other integrate,” said Perkin.
He says sponsoring multiple Syrian families is a massive undertaking for Sackville.
“We’ve got a fundraising group and we’ve got our household groups which will be taking donation of household items and setting up the home,” he said. “We also have a welcome group which will be on duty almost 24/7 for the first month.”
But he says not everyone is welcoming of the idea.
“I think there are some concerns around security and around having people coming in who don’t speak English initially.”
On Tuesday, Marc-Alain Mallet with the N.B. Human Rights Commission reminded New Brunswickers that refugees are protected from discrimination and harassment under legislation.
“These are people just like us, it’s just that they are not as fortunate are New Brunswickers and Canadians to live in a stable democratic country,” he said.
Which is why the SRRC says it will push ahead with plans to help several families and despite those who don’t support the cause.
“You explain your position politely and try to convince them that what the SRRC is doing in the best interest of both these refugees and the community,” said Nicholson.