When the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program was launched on 28 Sept 2015, Clarke Law was one of the first law firms in Canada to join. The goal of the program was to help the government reach its target of bringing in 25,000 Syrian refugees as part of its campaign promise. Immigration and refugee lawyers across Canada have been working and volunteering their time to make sure the applications are processed quickly, without issues.
In Winnipeg, Alastair Clarke agreed to assist the South Osborne Syrian Refugee Initiative pro bono (this means that legal services are provided at no cost). We are assisting a group of families who are currently in Lebanon. The Syrian refugees have each faced extreme hardship while in their home country and they have managed to make their way to relative safety in Lebanon. Unfortunately, they are still not safe. We are working to bring them to Winnipeg where they will be far from the violence and out of reach from the Syrian operatives who are still threatening their safety.
Paula Leslie and other organizers have been working hard to raise the funds to make sure the Syrian families have support once they reach Canada. News agencies, including the CBC, have been reporting their efforts:
Close to 350 people packed the Park Theatre on Tuesday night for a sold-out fundraising concert to help bring Syrian refugee families to Winnipeg.
The South Osborne Syrian Refugee Initiative teamed up with Churchill Park United Church for the benefit concert, which featured performances by The Bonaduces, Sweet Alibi and DJ Co-Op.
Event co-organizer Matthew Lawrence said the goal is to raise a total of $90,000 “so that we can hopefully sponsor three families” who have relatives already living in the city.
“We just felt really compelled to take some action,” Lawrence said.Benefit concert co-organizer Matthew Lawrence says the goal is to raise a total of $90,000 to help sponsor three Syrian refugee families with relatives already living in Winnipeg. (CBC)
“We started by thinking maybe we could just get involved in something else, but we kind of kept waiting and waiting and nothing was happening, so we decided, ‘Let’s just start something ourselves.'”
A GoFundMe campaign launched by the South Osborne Syrian Refugee Initiative has already raised more than $60,000. Lawrence said he hopes the concert will raise another $10,000.
Accolades to immigration lawyer Alastair Clarke for assisting us with our applications. Alastair generously provided his services pro bono through the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program. Given that SOSRI was completing the dozens of forms as representatives for the five principal applicants we had a number of questions on how to address certain issues that a sponsoring group ordinarily wouldn’t have (most sponsoring groups apply and have UNHCR families/individuals assigned to them with papers/documents/histories complete). The IRRC toll free question line has extremely long wait times! We were very fortunate to be able to simply email and/or call Alastair with any questions throughout the application process.
They also write:
Along with Alastair’s professional integrity and his breadth of knowledge it is clear that he cares deeply for the issues and people that he works with. If you need an immigration lawyer – look no further. Thank you Alastair – your time and efforts are appreciated.
This work is not done. We will continue to support this group, and other groups, to make sure their transition to Canada is without any issues.