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Winnipeg ready to open doors to Syrian refugees: Bowman

Mayor Brian Bowman said today he believes the Syrian humanitarian crisis requires support and assistance from countries and communities around the world, including Winnipeg

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Mayor Brian Bowman said today he believes the Syrian humanitarian crisis requires support and assistance from countries and communities around the world, including Winnipeg

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/11/2015 (1301 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Mayor Brian Bowman wants to roll out the welcome mat to Syrian refugees and he’s encouraging Winnipeggers to join him.

Bowman said he believes the Syrian humanitarian crisis requires support and assistance from countries and communities around the world, including Winnipeg.

“I believe now is not the time to close our doors. Now is not the time to allow fear to triumph over hope and humanity. Now, more than ever, is a time for compassion. It is a time for us to embrace our values of openness and acceptance,” he said.

Just what Winnipeg will do remains to be seen. Bowman said he will wait to take direction from the federal government, which is expected to announce specific details regarding the refugees in the coming days.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/11/2015 (1301 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Mayor Brian Bowman wants to roll out the welcome mat to Syrian refugees and he’s encouraging Winnipeggers to join him.

Bowman said he believes the Syrian humanitarian crisis requires support and assistance from countries and communities around the world, including Winnipeg.

"I believe now is not the time to close our doors. Now is not the time to allow fear to triumph over hope and humanity. Now, more than ever, is a time for compassion. It is a time for us to embrace our values of openness and acceptance," he said.

Just what Winnipeg will do remains to be seen. Bowman said he will wait to take direction from the federal government, which is expected to announce specific details regarding the refugees in the coming days.

"I think it’s important for the federal government and Winnipeggers to know I support (the relocation) efforts. We want to be as ready as possible to do our part to assist the federal government in implementing their plans," he said.

In the meantime, Bowman encouraged Winnipeggers to make a donation to the Canadian Mennonite Central Committee, the Red Cross or other organizations supporting the refugee effort.

"Winnipeg has a rich and vibrant support community with many organizations helping with the resettlement of new immigrants. I believe Winnipeg is ready to do its part to welcome new families to our community and help ensure they receive the supports they need to settle into a Winnipeg and Canadian way of life."

Bowman said he has been in contact with Premier Greg Selinger and John McCallum, the federal immigration minister, in the last few days. He said of the approximately 3,000 refugees expected to come to Manitoba, it’s unknown how many will settle in Winnipeg.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised during the October federal election to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of this year. Manitoba committed to taking up to 3,000 this year, which would be about 1,500 more than originally planned.

In an interview with the Free Press earlier this month, Selinger said the $1.2 million the province pledged in September for settlement services for refugees is starting to flow to the organizations so they can ramp up to prepare for an influx of people.

"We’re working on it, we said let’s get this money moving," he said.

He said the money needs to flow so organizations can hire people and get the supplies they need to manage.

Selinger said the vast majority of the additional refugees will have to be government-sponsored, which means Ottawa will have to provide funding for their housing and living costs for the first year, as well as additional funds for health care, social services and education.

He said Manitoba has appointed an internal co-ordinator — an employee who recently worked overseas with refugees — to oversee the provincial government response, and is putting out a request for proposals to hire an external co-ordinator among immigration agencies as well.

He said getting to 3,000 refugees by the end of December "will be tough but everybody is mobilizing."

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

— with files from Mia Rabson

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History

Updated on Sunday, November 22, 2015 at 4:12 PM CST: Writethru.

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