National Catholic Conference on Refugee Sponsorship: January 13-15, 2010

Church Leaders, Government Officials & Community Leaders Discuss Outreach Strategies

TORONTO, Jan. 11 /CNW/ - Federal Minister Jason Kenney, responsible for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism will meet later this week with Catholic bishops from across Canada in downtown Toronto. This meeting coincides with the National Catholic Conference on Refugee Sponsorship which takes place in Pickering, just east of Toronto.

The conference brings together refugee and social justice advocates from Catholic dioceses and institutions across Canada. The purpose of the Conference is to mobilize the Catholic community across Canada to respond to the rising number of refugees who need assistance by increasing the number of refugee sponsorships to Canada and providing assistance overseas.

The conference will also serve as a way to raise awareness on how conflicts around the world are creating this new refugee crisis. The conference will run from January 13 to 15 at Manresa Jesuit Spiritual Renewal Centre in Pickering.

Over the past two years, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops as well as individual bishops including Toronto's Archbishop Thomas Collins have urged the federal government to respond more vigorously to the crisis specifically affecting Iraqi Christians, who as a Christian minority have been the target of violent attacks, swelling the ranks of refugees leaving Iraq.

Responding to their request, federal Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenny, announced that the numbers of Iraqis who would be eligible for refugee sponsorship to Canada through Canada's refugee centre in Damascus, Syria would be increased from 1,300 to 2,500 persons.

Participants at the conference will hear speakers from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Amnesty International, the International Organization for Migration, and Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

At a special in camera session on January 13, Bishops will be meeting directly with Minister Kenney in downtown Toronto.

A special reception, celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program, will be held on the evening of Thursday, January 14 in Pickering, and will honour refugee advocates from several faith communities and organizations.

MEDIA NOTICE

The plenary sessions of the conference are open to the Media. Members of the Press are cordially invited to meet with conference participants, speakers and organizers at 5:00 pm on Thursday, January 14th.

SOURCE Archdiocese of Toronto

For further information: For further information: Jenny Hwang, ORAT (Office for Refugees - Archdiocese of Toronto), E-mail: refugeeoutreach@archtoronto.org, Phone: (416) 287-0800

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