As Canada prepares to provide asylum to 25,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees, the part Quebec will play has begun to surface. And while many believe the plan to welcome thousands of refugees into the province is solely the duty of provincial and municipal leaders, there's quite a bit you, the average Montrealer, can do.
While the specifics of the federal plan will be fully revealed today, CBC has already caught wind of some specifics in relation to Quebec.
According to CBC, the first refugees to come into Quebec will be flown in next week, on December first. In total, Quebec plans to accept 3,650 refugees by the end of 2015.
It's also quite important to note that Quebec will not be following the federal plan of only accepting women, children, and families, and excluding single men entirely. Pointed out as problematic for various reasons (e.g. the exclusion of homosexual single men), it's somewhat comforting to know the province is being a bit more progressive in its position to accept refugees.
But, like already mentioned, it's not up to the province itself to ensure the comfort and safety of the thousands of refugees that will soon be in Quebec, and Montreal, because you can play a huge role too.
Partnering with YMCA Residence, the Regional Program for the Settlement and Integration of Asylum Seekers (PRAIDA) is asking Montrealers to donate old winter clothes, to ensure the incoming refugees are fully prepared for winter in Montreal. Anything you can give will be accepted, from coats, to gloves, to boots, to hats.
Here's when the donations will be held:
- Wednesday, November 25th: 8am to 3pm at the main entrance of the Jewish General Hospital (map)
- Wednesday, December 2nd: 8am to 3pm at the main entrance of the CLSC Côte-des-Neiges (map)
There are also many other ways Montrealers can aid the incoming refugees, and you'll find a selection below.
- Volunteer: All those wishing to help out with the effort, especially those with language skills or can provide useful services should get in touch with organizations like Action Réfugiés Montréal and Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes.
- Provide A Home: Temporary and permanent housing will be needed, and the Centre social d'aide aux immigrant Montreal is seeking out those with any extra space, from a room to an entire apartment. Get more info at the CSAI website here, otherwise, if you're in the borough of Rosemont, you can connect with Syrian newcomers in need through the Facebook group Cooperation Rosemont – Ensemble avec les familles refugiees.
- Give A Tuque: Using the tuque as a symbol for unification, the group 25,000 Tuques is asking any and all in Quebec to donate (or knit) winter hats, because in this province "the only enemy is the cold." Get more info at the official website here.
- Donate: A simple donation to any of the aforementioned organizations, and the Canadian Council for Refugees Syrian Refugee Support Fund, will go a long way in helping the effort, even if you can't provide a lot of funds.
- Get Informed: Nothing is more harmful than ignorance, and even if you can't aid Quebec's refugee initiative with your own time and money, you should at least be informed and capable of dispelling any misguided notions of hate. Again, any of the organizations above will provide you with the necessary info, as will the Action Réfugiés Montréal website.