This article appeared in the King Weekly Sentinel on July 28, 2021.
The Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program is a pioneering Canadian refugee resettlement program.
The arrival of Vietnamese refugees on Canadian shores – often referred to as the “Boat People” – in the mid 1970s mobilized Canadians to respond. In 1979, the Canadian government pledged to sponsor one refugee for each refugee that the Canadian public would financially and otherwise support privately. For the first time, ordinary people across the country became involved in assisting refugees to settle in Canada through private sponsorship. This changed forever the way Canadians would view their role in Canada’s refugee resettlement programs.
Canada is the first country in the world to have a refugee sponsorship program where private citizens and the community are directly involved in the resettlement of refugees from abroad. It has become a model for other countries around the world.
Through the PSR program, Canadian citizens and permanent residents can engage in the resettlement of refugees from abroad. As members of organizations, associations and groups, citizens and residents can sponsor refugees coming to Canada as a Group of Five, a Community Sponsor or a Sponsorship Agreement Holder.
The PSR program does not rely on public resources, but rather taps the energy and funds of faith communities, ethnic groups, families, and other benevolent associations. These groups and organizations typically raise funds or use their personal income to provide for and support the sponsored individual or family for their first year in Canada.
They initiate the process by submitting a refugee sponsorship application package to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Their commitment lasts until the end of the sponsorship period, typically 12 months from the date of the sponsored person’s arrival in Canada.
Since 1979, Canadians have resettled nearly 300,000 refugees through the PSR program.
By Susan Beharriell, a retired senior intelligence officer for the RCAF, is also a team member at King for Refugees. KfR is a registered charity that maintains its grassroots focus by gathering all the goodwill in King Township for welcoming newcomers to this part of Canada. We all can help people forced from their homes, unable to return, to begin anew. If you would like to learn more about KfR, please email firstname.lastname@example.org