Local organizations, community members, regional councillors and mayors will come together for a press conference and community gathering at City Hall on September 15th to express solidarity and explore ways of supporting the hundreds of thousands refugees impacted by the crisis in Syria. Waterloo Region has a long history of welcoming refugees and has benefited greatly from their contribution to the diversity and innovation that make define this community. The time is now to stand together to welcome refugees to Waterloo Region.
COMMUNITY GATHERING: 5:20-6:45
SPEAKERS’ PROGRAM: 5:40-6:00
Regional Chair Ken Seiling and Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic will participate in the press conference and community gathering, along with leading community organizations, to send the message that Waterloo Region welcomes refugees. Participating local agencies such as Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support, Kitchener Waterloo Multicultural Centre, Reception House Waterloo Region, Welcome Home, YMCA Immigrant Services, Mennonite Central Committee, and Sanctuary Refugee Health Clinic will direct local residents to various ways of supporting refugees locally and internationally.
“People in Waterloo Region want to help and can help in so many ways. Now is the time to do so,” said Peter Donahue, Chair of the Immigration Partnership Council. “Thousands of men, women and children are seeking refuge from war, and some are blocked on their journey to safety. Some of them may have family in this community. They face great uncertainty, with few to no resources and are dependent on aid and assistance. Those people need to know that the world stands with them; that Waterloo Region stands with them.”
UNHCR reports that nearly half of the Syrian population has been displaced from their homes over the last 5 years of violence. Since the start of 2015 over 300,000 refugees and migrants, at least half of whom are children, have journeyed across the Mediterranean from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and other regions impacted by war. Over 2,500 have died on their journey. Thousands of new people arrive at Europe’s borders each day, on boats, walking overland, sleeping in streets and waiting for trains to take them to Western countries to apply for refugee status. The Waterloo Region Welcomes Refugees event will express solidarity with these refugees and share important information on how citizens can help.