Waterloo Region receives $175,000 from Welcome Fund for Syrian Refugees

WATERLOO, ON, May 10, 2016 /CNW/ - Community Foundations of Canada is pleased to announce a $175,000 contribution from the Welcome Fund for Syrian Refugees (Welcome Fund) to The Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation (The KWCF) in support of local settlement efforts. The KWCF will direct these funds to the Waterloo Region Immigration Partnership 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 800 government-assisted refugees from Syria have arrived in Waterloo Region. The Welcome Fund will contribute $175,000 to the Waterloo Region Immigration Partnership which will support a community-wide strategy to enable Syrian newcomers to access housing, health and mental health supports, and language training services, while developing community supports geared towards navigating systems and community integration.

"My sincere thanks go to Community Foundations of Canada for their excellent work with the Welcome Fund, and to Canada's corporate community who have given so generously to it," said Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, John McCallum. "The benefits of this contribution to the Immigration Partnership will be felt in Waterloo Region for many years to come as it will help Syrian refugees begin their new lives in Canada."

"The Waterloo region has a long and proud history of welcoming people with open arms, especially those fleeing conflict and strife," said Bardish Chagger, Minister for Small Business and Tourism, and MP for the riding of Waterloo. "It's a place that offers wonderful opportunities for families to grow, for children to get an education, and live among our diverse communities."

"We are grateful for the generous contribution from the Welcome Fund for Syrian Refugees to our community's effort to welcome and support over 800 Syrian refugees," said Peter Donahue, Chair of the Waterloo Region Immigration Partnership Council. "Now that the families have moved to permanent homes, this support will enable agencies across sectors to innovate and deliver programming to ensure they can stay in their homes, access needed supports and develop deep roots in Waterloo Region."

"The grant from Community Foundations of Canada is much appreciated by all in Waterloo Region," said Ken Seiling, Regional Chair. "It will go a long way to helping recent newcomers fully enter into the life of our community and begin to feel that they do have a 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." 

"Over the past six months we have witnessed the beginning stages of a Region-wide strategy to address the immediate and long-term needs of Syrian newcomers," said Rosemary Smith, CEO of The KWCF. "The KWCF is delighted to act as the initial recipient of the funds and I am pleased to share that the Welcome Fund grant is eligible for The KWCF's Syrian Newcomer matching program." Up to $400,000 is available for matching from The Foundation's Community Fund and its fundholders. Adds Smith, "Support from the Welcome Fund and the work of the Waterloo Region Immigration Partnership will go a long way toward assisting Syrian newcomers in Waterloo Region, helping families find housing, feel like they belong and become productive contributors to their new 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 the Region of Waterloo, 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 organizations in the Waterloo Region."

"Community Foundations of 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 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, David Venn, Director of Communications, Tel: +1 (613) 236-2664 ext. 302, Email: dvenn@communityfoundations.ca, Twitter: @CommFdnsCanada; CN: Patrick Waldron, Senior Manager, Media Relations, Tel: +1 (514) 399-8803, Email: Patrick.Waldron@cn.ca; Manulife: Rebecca Freiburger, Media Relations Consultant, Tel: +1 (519) 503-6604, Email: Rebecca_Freiburger@Manulife.com, Twitter: @Manulife or @ManulifeNews; The KWCF:Bethan Llewellyn, Director, Executive Services, Tel: +1 (519) 725-1806 ext. 205 | Cell: +1 (519) 807-4260, Email: bllewellyn@kwcf.ca | www.kwcf.ca, Twitter: @TheKWCF

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