Vancouver receives $500,000 from Welcome Fund for Syrian Refugees

VANCOUVER, March 18, 2016 /CNW/ - Community Foundations of Canada (CFC) is pleased to announce a $500,000 contribution from the Welcome Fund for Syrian Refugees (Welcome Fund) to the Vancouver Foundation in support of local settlement efforts. The Vancouver Foundation will direct these funds to ISSofBC (Immigrant Services Society of BC) 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 and community organizations.

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 1,600 refugees from Syria have arrived in Vancouver to date, including 110 families with six or more family members.  As part of its work with these new arrivals,  ISSofBC will use the Welcome Fund contribution to amplify its efforts to find and secure suitable accommodation for larger families, and provide related support services.

"Welcoming immigrants and refugees into Canada is an important Canadian tradition, but in many ways it's only a first step. Initiatives like the one announced today by the Community Foundations of Canada in Vancouver will help newcomers with housing and it will also help them build their networks in their adoptive communities and successfully integrate into Canada," said Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, John McCallum.

"Vancouverites are proud to be welcoming refugees into our community – making a difference in the lives of some of the world's most vulnerable people," said Mayor of Vancouver Gregor Robertson. "The Welcome Fund is a great contribution to ensuring hope, security, and opportunity for our new friends and neighbours."

"The importance of finding a home is paramount to a newcomer's settlement process. ISSofBC welcomes the generous donation from CN that will allow us to implement new permanent housing pilot projects to address the distinct needs of harder-to-house refugee families as they begin their new lives in BC," said Patricia Woroch, CEO,  ISSofBC.

"The Welcome Fund will make an immediate difference to the prospects of new arrivals to BC," said Vancouver Foundation President & CEO, Kevin McCort. "We know how hard our community partners are working to help refugees settle, and this new fund is an important step forward to support their work."

"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 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."

"CN has always been there to help welcome and settle new Canadians across this great country," said Mike Cory, Senior Vice President, Western Region. "We hope our $5 million donation to the Welcome Fund will encourage others to join in assisting the refugees who are arriving in communities across Canada and British Columbia. We are 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 and are pleased to see much needed financial support reach aid organizations in communities like Vancouver."

"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 Vancouver organizations."

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 www.communityfoundations.ca.

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

SOURCE Community Foundations of Canada

For further information: Media Contacts: Community Foundations of Canada, JP Bervoets, Vice President, Partnerships and Public Engagement, Tel: +1 (416) 319-8111, Email: jbervoets@communityfoundations.ca, Twitter: @CommFdnsCanada; CN, Patrick Waldron, Senior Manager, Media Relations, Tel: +1 (514) 399-8803, Email: Patrick.Waldron@cn.ca; Manulife, Brooke Tucker-Reid, Media Relations, Consultant, Tel: +1 (647) 528-9601, Email: brooke_tucker-reid@manulife.com, Twitter: @Manulife or @ManulifeNews

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