Support for SAGA Refugee Sponsorship

Tuesday, December 8 2015

The shared ministry of St. Martin of Tours Anglican Church and Gabriola United Church supports the refugee sponsorship initiative of SAnctuary GAbriola (SAGA). SAGA is a committed and well-organized community group that is responding in a tangible way to an enormous global humanitarian crisis by offering sanctuary to families who have taken huge personal risks and tortuous routes to flee oppression and conflict. With over four million registered refugees, the Syrian crisis has dominated the world headlines. However, there has also been an enormous exodus from other countries such as Eritrea, which has one of the most corrupt and brutal regimes in the world. 

As some people have suggested (including some of our own church members), Gabriola Island doesn’t offer an ideal destination for refugees. Housing, employment, and language training issues will likely be challenging. On the other hand, our Island is blessed with a wonderful community spirit and a supportive environment that is often lacking in larger urban centres. Gabriola Island has been a sanctuary for most of us who have moved here from elsewhere. In a similar way, it can also be a suitable temporary sanctuary for refugee families as they adapt to a new culture. We encourage all Gabriolans to join our two churches in supporting the local SAGA initiative in any way they can. Financial support and hands-on assistance are needed. It is a very worthy humanitarian project, whatever your spiritual or religious beliefs. 

As well as supporting the SAGA project, our shared ministry is also pleased to support the Nanaimo Community Refugee Sponsorship (NCRS) initiative – a broad affiliation of several Nanaimo-area churches and community people who plan to sponsor several refugee families for resettlement in the Nanaimo area.  Those wanting more information about the NCRS initiative should contact Brechin United Church in Nanaimo.

We encourage people to also consider supporting humanitarian efforts to provide crisis relief (e.g., shelter, food, health, and water) for refugees in the Middle East and Europe by donating to the Syria Emergency Relief Fund through an eligible Canadian NGO of your choice. The federal government has pledged to match all donations received before the end of December. All donations must be clearly marked for Syrian relief.

Finally, let’s not forget the people in need who are currently living in our local community during this Christmas season. Donations to People for a Healthy Community really do make us a community of neighbours helping neighbours.  

Rob Brockley (Warden, St. Martin of Tours Anglican Church) (250) 247-9467

MJ Patterson (Chair, Gabriola United Church) (250) 247-9088