Refugee Sponsorship  (update Sept., 2022)

Brechin United Church has been involved in sponsoring refugees since early 2016.  In partnership with community members, including Hope Lutheran and The Unity Churches, our first Syrian family of five were welcomed to Canada in November, 2016.  The designated year of sponsorship ended successfully with both parents advancing in their ESL classes and the three boys thriving in school.  They are all well, happy and adjusting to their new life in Nanaimo.

During that time, some members of Brechin’s “Reaching Out” (LGBTQ & Allies) Group inquired about sponsoring LGBTQ refugees through The United Church of Canada and Brechin United Church.  They met with Anne Manikel, the Refugee Coordinator for Brechin, and an umbrella organization entitled “ROAR” (Reaching Out Assisting Refugees) was formed.  Their primary purpose is “... to resettle sexual and gender minority refugees to safety in Canada”.  Each sponsorship requires the formation of a small group of dedicated volunteers who support the newcomer for their first full year in Canada.

The first ROAR sponsorship group was formed and an application was made in September, 2016.  Seventeen months later in February, 2018, we welcomed a young gay man from Syria.  With a degree from Syria and fluency in English, he has done very well and is now settled in Vancouver.

A second sponsorship group was formed and an application was made in August, 2017 to sponsor another Syrian man. He arrived in July, 2018 and as a well-educated, English- speaking newcomer, he adapted well and enjoys his new-found freedom and safety in Canada.  He is now working in Nanaimo.

A third sponsorship group welcomed a young “woman at risk” from Cote d’Ivoire in September, 2019.  Since her first language was French and her year of sponsorship support was completed, she chose to move to Montreal for easier schooling and employment opportunities.  She continues in her ESL studies and high school equivalency while working.  At the same time, she has reunited with some African friends and is feeling very comfortable in her new home.

A fourth refugee sponsorship group was formed in 2019 to support a gay couple from Africa with hopes to bring them to safety in Canada as soon as possible.  Sadly, Covid-19 has halted the work of the UNHCR and Canada has closed its borders to refugees for the near future.  The sponsorship group maintains weekly contact with their two new friends who are experiencing extreme persecution in the country to which they have fled. We now anticipate their arrival in the fall of 2022.

A fifth refugee sponsorship group has submitted an application to sponsor a single gay man from Africa. He is also experiencing ongoing persecution in the country to which he fled. And, a sixth sponsorship group has formed on Gabriola Island and they are about to submit their sponsorship application to bring a sixth LGBTQ refugee to Canada.

How can you help?  ROAR and their sponsorship groups are working hard to raise the funds to support each refugee for the period of one year.  Through the efforts of Rainbow Refugee Society in Vancouver, they are able to receive some government funding.  We are also working with the Intercultural Association of Greater Victoria to administer our refugee funding. The basic budget requires about $35,000. be raised for each person sponsored.  Your donations to “Brechin United Church Refugee Fund” are most welcome. 

We are always looking for committed individuals who are interested in joining a refugee sponsorship group here in Nanaimo. Should you wish to become further involved in these refugee efforts, please do not hesitate to contact our Refugee Coordinator,

Anne Manikel, at or viewing the ROAR website @