In the late 1970’s, Kamloops United Church formed a “Refugee Resettlement” group in response to the many refugees fleeing Viet Nam
(known at the time as “the Boat People”), and sponsored our first family.
Our next sponsorships were refugees from Guatemala, Nicaragua and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Responding, in the late 1990s, to the huge numbers of refugees from Kosovo, the KUC Refugee Resettlement group was asked by the Canadian government to co-ordinate sponsorships in Kamloops for refugees from the former Yugoslavia.
We agreed, and individuals from the wider community, and other churches in Kamloops joined with us, sponsoring 50 refugees from Kosovo and Albania. As we worked together, this sponsoring group took on the name “Refugees and Friends Together”, “R.A.F.T.” for short, to more accurately reflect the diverse make-up of the group.
Since that time we have continued to sponsor refugees, sponsoring people from Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Colombia, Iraq and Iran.
With the public’s heightened awareness and interest in responding to the refugee crisis, we have, once again, invited the wider community to become involved, to increase our sponsorship capacity by including more individuals & groups in this important humanitarian work.
Responding to the Syrian crisis, RAFT held an information meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015. During this meeting, the “KUC Refugee Resettlement Committee”, and R.A.F.T. (an acronym for “Refugees And Friends Together”, which is a blend of church and secular persons working together in support of refugees), provided information on what is involved in refugee sponsorship and how to become involved.
Nearly 100 people attended the meeting. Many attendees filled out forms indicating how they would like to be involved. As well, a number of people made financial donations and/or pledges towards refugee resettlement.
Update on Syrian families arriving to begin their new lives here: May 2016
RAFT held an information meeting on Monday, May 16 to update the public on refugee resettlement in Kamloops. “Thank you” was expressed to the many churches, organizations and individuals who have contributed to refugee sponsorship in our area.
The total number of Syrian refugees arriving in Canada from November 4, 2015 to March 2, 2017 is 26,140. 2,267 of these came to B.C.
To date we have had five families arrive. Three of these families, while sponsored by RAFT, are actively supported by the Kamloops Islamic Association. We are currently awaiting the arrival of other families. At this point we have no idea when this could happen.
New Year’s Eve 2016
Our first family of 5 arrived! Late in January 2 brothers arrived and also another single young man. He came with no advance warning but was warmly welcomed all the same. These men are all under the auspices of one of our partners, Kamloops Islamic Association.
If you wish to make a donation, please click the DONATE NOW button on our home page and click on the selection bar for RAFT. You will receive a receipt, via email shortly after you complete your donation, from “Canada Helps”. You are also welcome to visit the Kamloops United Church office, at the corner of 4th Avenue and St. Paul street, and make your donation there. You will receive a tax receipt for this donation, from the church at the end of the fiscal year.
If you are interested in supporting R.A.F.T. financially or with your time, please phone 778-471-7631, or email <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Our mission is:
Photo of some R.A.F.T. committee volunteers:
Front Row: Lynda Fisher, Verna Albright, Heather Wisla, Kenna Sim and Martha Asbaugh
Back Row: Jane Gringich, Heidi Coleman, Gordon Stamp-Vincent, Felicity Klassen, Dave Klassen, Bruce Comrie,
Sepkje Lind, Tacy Ruffner and Yael La Rose
Missing: Robert Wisla and Patric McColl