Providing for Syrian Refugees in Ottawa
Dear Mayor Watson and Councillors,
At their November 2 General Meeting, 35 community associations from rural, suburban and downtown locations as well as former villages and towns present directed me to write to you on their behalf urging you to strengthen efforts to welcome and settle refugees.
As you may know, the Federation of Citizens Associations acts as a forum and representative of citizens’ associations across Ottawa. It links broadly-based and diverse community associations from the Urban Core, Suburbs, and communities including the former towns and villages outside the Greenbelt. It is a volunteer-driven, non-partisan and not-for-profit.
The Member Associations also requested on-going information to keep Ottawans informed on initiatives taken or to be taken to help reduce uncertainty.
To avoid the error of being too brief, we have included for you the wording of their Motion:
Be it resolved that a FCA delegation shall:
- Visit Councillor Diane Deans to discuss how the City of Ottawa might strengthen efforts to welcome and settle refugees in the context of Ottawa’s Immigration Strategies.
- Present to the Community and Protective Services Committee’s deliberations on Budget 2016, urging that both financial and in-kind resources of the City be dedicated to refugee welcome and settlement during this crisis.
Accordingly, on November 19, our Vice President, Past President and lead spokesperson Angela Keller-Herzog met with Councillor Deans.
Our message to her and to you in this letter is that Community Associations will be behind you in a robust response to this compelling humanitarian misfortune. Provided to the councillor were examples of what other Canadian municipalities had done, or were planning to do.
Councillor Deans encouraged us to arrange a FCA delegation to make a presentation to the Community and Protective Services Committee.
On November 30, our FCA delegation made a Power-Point presentation to the Community and Protective Services Committees. We were in the company of at least two other public delegations which acknowledged the significance of the government initiatives during this crisis. FCA proposed that the Committee put forward a motion to Council affirming that the City of Ottawa, in summary:
- Provide and encourage dedication of financial and in-kind resources of the City to refugees
- Direct staff to update Ottawa Immigration Strategy for an early meeting of the Committee
- Foster a welcoming environment for refugees.
- Ensure and undertake welcoming and settlement functions
- Give consideration to an Update Strategy to serve as a vehicle for a 2015-2016 plan.
- The plan would state clear and concrete measures for refugee Welcome and settlement (e.g. free bus passes for one year).
Again, to make sure you have the full text and related details of our proposal in a useful format we also include with this a copy of our short, visual presentation.
President, Federation of Citizens Associations