Supporting Refugees

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Windsor-area residents interested in assisting with the refugee crisis will soon have more support at their disposal thanks to a new initiative from Windsor Law and the University of Ottawa Refugee Hub. The Windsor chapter of the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program (SSP) will bring together pro bono lawyers, law students, and sponsorship experts to offer support to members of the Windsor community seeking to privately sponsor refugees.

On Thursday 21 January 2016 from 6:30-9 p.m., Windsor SSP will partner with the Multicultural Council of Windsor & Essex County (MCC) to host a public information session for any members of the community interested in private sponsorship. The session will be held at the University of Windsor, in Room 2100 of the Faculty of Law building (corner of University Avenue and Sunset Avenue). Training will be provided by the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program (RSTP), a national organization that specializes in educating and supporting both individuals and groups engaged in private sponsorship. Experts will be available to answer questions from the public regarding the sponsorship process, and representatives from the MCC will speak about settlement supports available in the community to help arriving privately-sponsored refugees.

“This session is of timely importance as it addresses the increased interest of citizens and community groups asking ‘what else can I do?’” says Executive Director Kathleen Thomas of the Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County. “This session aims to increase the numbers of privately sponsored refugees in our area, as well as increase private sponsors’ awareness of the settlement and community services available to assist refugees and their sponsoring families once their arrive in our community.” 

The next day, Friday 22 January 2016, Windsor SSP will facilitate a training session for lawyers and law students to learn how to deliver pro-bono services to members of the public wishing to sponsor refugees. The training will be free of charge and will be provided by RSTP.  It will ensure that lawyers in Windsor are equipped to provide legal assistance to community members navigating the sponsorship application process. Numerous lawyers in the community and Windsor Law students have already registered to participate in this project. 
“People in Windsor and Essex County want to assist, but the sponsorship process can be difficult to navigate”, says Acting Dean Chris Waters of Windsor Law.  “We are thrilled to be able to help bring together lawyers, law students and sponsors for this important programme”. 

The SSP is a national initiative supported by Government of Ontario, Toronto Dominion, the University of Ottawa, the Community Foundation of Ottawa, and other generous donors. Partner organizations include the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program, Grade A, the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, the uOttawa Human Rights Research and Education Centre, and Lifeline Syria. Approximately 1000 lawyers and 150 law students have registered to donate their time through the SSP with the ultimate goal of helping more Canadians help more refugees get to safety in Canada, faster. 

“Our regional partners are crucial to this program’s success,” says Jennifer Bond, Faculty Director of the Refugee Hub, which founded the SSP. “We are thrilled to be working with Windsor Law and the MCC to bring this initiative to another Canadian community.”
Windsor is the sixth Canadian city to launch a regional chapter of the SSP. The program will soon be available in 9 centers across Canada. 

For more information, visit the Windsor SSP website at Windsor-area residents wishing to attend the public information session on 21 January 2016 are asked to kindly register via the Eventbrite link on the above Windsor SSP website. 

If you are a lawyer and would like to become involved in Windsor, please contact Anneke Smit at or (519) 563-7401.   

Follow them on Twitter @windsorssp and on Facebook.