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/fifth refugee sponsorship group was formed in 2019 to support a gay couple from Africa. Finally, they arrived in Nanaimo in April, 2023. Both men have been working in health care and studying at VIU, thanks to very supportive refugee programs offered by VIHA and VIU. We are so very proud of their achievements and ambitions for the future.
A sixth refugee sponsorship group were matched with a single gay man from Africa in 2019. His sponsorship will be handled through ICA (Inter-Cultural Assn.

of Greater Victoria) and hopefully that will be expeditated for arrival in the summer. The seventh sponsorship group formed on Gabriola Island and they received their newcomer from Afghanistan last fall. She is now working hard on her ESL classes. The application forms for an eighth refugee have just gone in and the waiting begins. A ninth refugee sponsorship group have also submitted their paperwork.
A tenth group is now forming and we are looking at committed individuals to join. Should you wish to become further involved in these refugee efforts, please do not hesitate to contact our Refugee Coordinator, Anne Manikel (
Each sponsorship of an individual refugee requires approximately $35,000. to cover a full year of support for the individual. Fund-raising is ongoing by ROAR and their sponsorship groups. Should you wish to contribute please check out our ROAR website: We are particularly excited about our upcoming “Picnic en Blanc” this July. Check it out!