Ottawa receives $450,000 from Welcome Fund for Syrian Refugees

OTTAWA, May 4, 2016 /CNW/ - Community Foundations of Canada is pleased to announce a $450,000 contribution from the Welcome Fund for Syrian Refugees (Welcome Fund) to the Community Foundation of Ottawa in support of local settlement efforts. The Community Foundation of Ottawa will direct these funds to the Catholic Centre for Immigrants, Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization and World Skills to support their crucial work with refugees. The Welcome Fund was seeded by Manulife, and quickly augmented by CN's historic $5 million donation, as well as by generous support from GM.

Established to respond to an urgent gap in accessible and affordable housing, the Welcome Fund provides an important investment in community-driven solutions to support the successful settlement of families recently arrived from Syria and help them transition into suitable permanent housing.

More than 1,100 government-assisted refugees from Syria have arrived in Ottawa. The Welcome Fund will contribute $450,000 to the Catholic Centre for Immigrants, Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization and World Skills which will provide housing and rent subsidies to help families move into sustainable homes, offer mental health supports, and assist refugees to secure employment.

"I welcome today's announcement by Community Foundations Canada," said Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, John McCallum. "The Welcome Fund contribution to Ottawa's settlement organizations will help to ease the burden of housing costs, allowing Syrian refugees in this community to focus on settling in and building their futures.  I sincerely thank Canada's corporate community who built this fund, rising to the challenge of our national project to help Syrian refugees transition to their new lives in Canada."

"We are delighted and grateful to receive support from the Welcome Fund through the Community Foundation of Ottawa," said Carl Nicholson, Executive Director with the Catholic Centre for Immigrants. "Finding and keeping a home is major step in the settlement process for newcomers – one that contributes to a sense of security and belonging. This generosity will help us implement programs to better serve the distinct needs of particularly vulnerable refugee families as they start their new lives in our community."

"The City of Ottawa is proud to welcome Syrian refugees in our community," said Mayor Jim Watson. "I am also particularly proud of the great work and volunteer hours many organizations and individuals have dedicated to helping these families. With the generous donation from Canada's private sector through our local community foundation, we will be able to better help refugees ‎settle into their new home."

"Shifting refugees from temporary to more permanent homes is the first step in helping people and families to settle into their new lives in Canada," said Andrew Chunilall, Chief Operating Officer at Community Foundations of Canada. "We thank CN, Manulife, GM, and other participating partners for their support, and invite other organizations to step forward to assist with our continued rollout of the Welcome Fund across the country." 

"The Community Foundation of Ottawa is proud to have played a leadership role since the City of Ottawa first set out to welcome and settle more than a thousand refugees from Syria," said Marco Pagani, President & CEO of the Community Foundation of Ottawa. "We are especially pleased to now be part of this national initiative that will be vital in supporting newcomers to transition into permanent housing and begin a new future in our community."

"CN has a great history of helping those arriving at our shores settle in places across our great country," said Paul Deegan, Vice President of Public and Government Affairs at CN. "We hope our $5 million donation to the Welcome Fund will encourage other Canadian businesses to join in contributing to this urgent cause. As that financial aid reaches organizations across the country, including here in Ottawa, CN is proud to support refugees with their transition to a better life, filled with the same dreams for their families and children that all Canadians share."

"The arrival of 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada is only one step among many for these new Canadians as they begin the next phase of their lives," said Marianne Harrison, President and Chief Executive Officer, Manulife Canada. "The Welcome Fund was established to provide housing and job preparedness, which would not happen without the leadership of these great local Ottawa organizations."

"Community Foundations Canada is turning the outpouring of community support across Canada into actionable housing for Syrian refugees," said David Paterson, Vice President of Corporate and Environmental Affairs, General Motors of Canada. "In addition, GM employees and our dealers across Canada are pleased to offer support, work, skills training and apprenticeship opportunities to support these new Canadians."

About Community Foundations of Canada

Community Foundations of Canada is the national network for Canada's 191 community foundations which help Canadians invest in building strong and resilient places to live, work, and play. Community foundations contribute time, leadership and financial support to initiatives that benefit community most, directing grants and other investments towards everything from shelter, education, and care for those in need, to the arts, environment and recreation. To learn more visit

To learn more about partnership opportunities related to the Welcome Fund, please contact JP Bervoets, Vice President, Partnerships and Public Engagement, at

SOURCE Community Foundations of Canada

For further information: Media Contacts: Community Foundations of Canada, David Venn, Director of Communications,Tel: +1 (613) 236-2664 ext. 302, Email:, Twitter: @CommFdnsCanada; CN, Patrick Waldron, Senior Manager, Media Relations, Tel: +1 (514) 399-8803, Email:; Manulife, Brooke Tucker-Reid, Media Relations Consultant,Tel: +1 (647) 528-9601, Email:, Twitter: @Manulife or @ManulifeNews


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