Private sponsorships of refugees by host organizations and families in Northumberland have been responsible for helping many Syrian-area refugees displaced by war re-start their lives successfully

Private sponsorship is generally not the method used around the world according to York University Canada Research Centre and Centre for Refugee Studies Dr. Christopher Kyriakides who spoke at an Immigration Workshop hosted by Northumberland County and funded by the federal government Wednesday.

Kyriakides has examined the reasons why some resettlement efforts are more successful than others looking at Northumberland and other parts of Ontario.

According to the Doctor, people who are forced from their homes, work, school – their very lives – fight to retain control. This need to manage their lives includes their right to “exist” and to “act” in their roles of fathers, mothers and breadwinners.

Host sponsorship organizations that reach out even before refugees arrive, and make contact through Skype or other methods, open communication channels to build trust that allows refugees their need to participate in managing their lives.

Hosts ask incoming refugees to take part in the decisions about where they will live, what kind of jobs they are looking for and even less significant choices about “the colour” of their bed sheets. These actions show newcomers that they have human “worth” and this aids the building of trust needed to have a successful settlement, he explained.

“Instilling this sense of worthiness (is important) and we found this all over, not just in Northumberland, but all over Ontario,” he said.

Kyriakides also stressed the need for not just resettlement “information” to be shared with refugees before they get here but real “knowledge” such as the steps that must be taken in the host country before they can continue in the profession they practised prior to displacement.

Before Kyriakides spoke, Northumberland/Peterborough South MP Kim Rudd described the Syrian crisis as the largest displacement of refugees since WWII. Rudd commended her communications director, Jamie Simmons, for his work with Syrian refugees saying he has been involved for the past 2.5 years.

She said while North America was “built on the backs of immigrants,” it is “partnerships” with newcomers to Canada that will keep this country growing and prospering.

Northumberland County has a strong commitment to attracting immigrants and a number of programs designed to support newcomers in a variety of ways including helping with business investment.

“Canada is not a melting pot but a tapestry,” Rudd said. “Canada is stronger…a sum of all of its parts.”