Global Refugee Crisis:  What Can Canadians Do?
Nancy Lovelock, President of the Rotary club of St. Thomas spoke to us on January 7, 2016 about the global refugee crisis.  According to the United Nations, The number of people living as refugees from war or persecution exceeded 50 million in 2013, for the first time since World War Two.  
Each year, millions of people around the world are forced to flee their homeland to escape persecution, war or severe human rights abuses. Often, these people are permanently displaced and are never able to return home. In keeping with its humanitarian tradition and international obligations, the Government of Canada provides assistance to thousands of such displaced persons every year through its Government-Assisted Refugee (GAR) program.
Canadian citizens and permanent residents are able to provide additional opportunities for refugees living abroad to find protection and build a new life in Canada through the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program.

The PSR program is strictly for sponsoring refugees and persons in refugee-like situations. Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, there are two classes of persons who may qualify as refugees for Canada’s refugee and humanitarian resettlement program. The classes are the Convention Refugees Abroad Class and the Country of Asylum Class.


A Convention refugee is any person who by reason of a well-founded fear of persecution because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion:

  • is outside the country of his or her nationality and is unable or, by reason of that fear, unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country; or
  • does not have a country of nationality, is outside the country of his or her former habitual residence and is unable or, by reason of that fear, unwilling to return to that country.

A Convention Refugee Abroad is any person who:

  • is a Convention refugee;
  • is outside Canada;
  • is seeking resettlement in Canada;
  • does not have a prospect of another durable solution, within a reasonable period of time, that is:
    • cannot return to his or her country of nationality or habitual residence;
    • cannot integrate in the country of refuge or the country of first asylum; and
    • does not have another offer of resettlement from a country other than Canada.
  • will be privately sponsored or assisted by the government or has adequate financial resources to support himself or herself and any dependants.

A member of the Country of Asylum Class is a person:

  • who is outside his or her country of citizenship or habitual residence;
  • who has been, and continues to be, seriously and personally affected by civil war or armed conflict or who has suffered massive violations of human rights;
  • for whom there is no possibility of finding an adequate solution to his or her situation within a reasonable period of time; and
  • who will be privately sponsored or who has adequate financial resources to support himself or herself and any dependants.

An officer at a Canadian visa office makes the final decision on whether someone meets one of these definitions and is, therefore, eligible for resettlement. The eligibility decision is normally based on an interview with the applicant, supporting documentation submitted by the applicant and sponsoring group and additional information available to the officer (such as country condition updates).

To be accepted for resettlement in Canada, the refugee must also pass medical, security and admissibility checks. In addition, refugees will be assessed on their ability to establish successfully in Canada. In making this assessment, the visa officer will consider whether the refugee has relatives or a sponsor in Canada, the ability to speak or learn to speak English or French, the potential for employment and resourcefulness. When a family unit is applying, the settlement potential of all family members is assessed as a single determination. Refugees deemed by the visa officer to be in urgent need of protection or in vulnerable circumstances are not assessed on their ability to establish.

For more information on the Government of Canada's Refugee Private Sponsorship program visit:

What Can We Do When Refugees Arrive in London?

Once refugees begin to arrive in your area, they will be in need of almost everything. You can make a difference by giving your time or expertise to help Syrian refugees settle in Canada.

Groups of newcomers will need help:

  • finding places to live,
  • finding work,
  • enrolling children in school,
  • learning English or French,
  • getting to know their new community,
  • understanding life in Canada,
  • getting around the area, and
  • general support for basic needs.

Ways you can help:


David Knoppert presents Nancy Lovelock with a Certificate of Thanks from the club.