February 14, 2017
The coalition of nearly 30 Kingston organizations helping Syrian newcomers has been awarded the 2017 Family Advocacy Award - the highest award given by Family and Children's Services or Frontenac, Lennox and Addington.
The award, held every year to celebrate Family Day, recognizes an individual, group or organization for their contribution in making the lives of families in KFL&A better. The 122 year old Children's Aid Society recognized Kingston Immigration Partnership for their outstanding work with Syrian newcomers.
"There is no greater challenge than helping those affected by war. The work by these organizations helping to settle Syrian refugees has been outstanding. More than food, housing and clothing, they have given these families hope. These organizations and the people who work for them are a shining example of what our community stands for," said Steve Woodman, Executive Director of Family and Children's Services or
Frontenac, Lennox and Addington.
The Kingston Immigration Partnership is a program of Kingston Community Health Centres and was established in 2009 by KCHC, KEYS Job Centre & the Kingston Economic Development Corporation. Its mandate is to provide leadership to the Kingston community in its efforts to attract, welcome, include and integrate immigrants. It created the Refugee Service Provider Committee in Kingston in 2015 to welcome Syrian families to Canada.
The Committee has welcomed refugees from Syria, but also some from Iraq, Somalia and Eritrea. Privately Sponsored refugee families started arriving in December 2015 - 19 families with just under 100 individuals. Since September 2016, through the Government Assisted Refugee program, the committee has received 26 families with 119 individuals.
Members of the Committee include:
• Kingston Community Health Centres
• KEYS Job Centre
• City of Kingston
• Community Foundations of Kingston and Area
• Kingston Literacy and Skills
• K3C Counselling Centres
• Kingston Frontenac Public Library
• Kingston Police
• Language Assessment Services
• Queen's University
• Limestone District School Board
• Ontario Early Years Centre
• Pathways for Children & Youth
• United Way KFL&A
Other members include ACFOMI, the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board, the Diocese of Ontario Refugee Support, Francophone Immigration Support Network, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, KEDCO, the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program, the Resettlement Assistance Program and Service Canada. Family and Children's Services is also a member of the Committee.
Woodman says that one of the reasons why these organizations were selected for this year's award was the plight of refugees worldwide.
"There are more than 21 million refugees in the world today. Many have died trying to reach Europe by boat. Others are being turned away by countries that used to accept them. Intolerance and fear of refugees is growing. Now more than ever, we need to send a message that refugees are welcome here," said Woodman.
Woodman is calling on people to mark Family Day by committing to welcome all newcomers, including refugees and immigrants. "These families are no longer refugees, they are our neighbours and Canadians. Let's do all we can to help them be a part of our community and our country."
There were two runner-ups to this year's award. OPSEU Local 462, representing Paramedics & Ambulance Communications Officers in Kingston & Frontenac County, was nominated for their charitable work supporting the Tree of Hope campaign. Thrive, an outreach addictions program run by Kingston Community Health Centres, was nominated for their work with vulnerable families. Almost a dozen organizations and individuals were nominated in total.