Kimberley refugee group formalized

Group is beginning work on bringing Syrian refugees to Kimberley

Last week’s meeting to seek interest and support for bringing one or two families from Syria to Kimberley was a success, says organizer Peggy Frederikse.

“The meeting went well,” she said. “We had about 15 people out and they showed great enthusiasm.”

So much so that the group has been formally named — the Kimberley Refugee Resettlement Group — and working committees formed.

Frederikse says that the group was updated on activities that have taken place thus far, such as speaking to and gaining support from Mayor Don McCormick and Columbia River Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald.

That kind of support is vital, she says, because the group is working on a letter of interest to the Anglican Diocese for their approval. Letters of support to go along with the expression of interest are important.

Funds have to be raised — at least $15,000, maybe more for two families.

But there is plenty of time, Frederikse says, not just because the federal government has slowed the process down but because small communities like Kimberley are not likely to be looked at first.

“Larger centres are ready now. We still need to raise funds.

“But we are off to a good start, we have a good committee.”

The group will meet again next Thursday morning at 10 a.m. at the Kimberley Public Library, and again, everyone is welcome.

Frederikse says the group talked about what would happen if Kimberley was not chosen to accept Syrian refugees.

“That may happen. We can’t offer everything larger centres can. There is no mosque here. But if that’s the case, we decided we would sponsor refugees from other countries. We’ll keep going.”

But she says while Kimberley may not have some of the services Syrian refugees may need it makes up for it by being so friendly.

“Kimberley is so welcoming and so hands-on, that I think initial settlement is easier.”