Refugee Response

Northlea United Church ~ Congregational Meeting, February 7, 2016 – 

Syrian Refugee Sponsorship

A Congregational Meeting has been called for Sunday, February 7, 2016 following worship to consider a Motion regarding sponsorship of a Syrian refugee family by Northlea United Church.

This is coming to the congregation following the decision of Council to approve a request from the Syrian Refugee Response Group, a decision tied to seeking the additional endorsement of the congregation. This is in line with Northlea’s new approach to governance, which includes bringing all major decisions to the full congregation for consideration. It also reflects the Refugee Response Group’s wish to encourage involvement in this initiative from across the congregation.


Beginning in September 2015 a group of people began to work towards a response on behalf of Northlea United Church to the Syrian refugee crisis that had erupted in the Middle East and across Europe. Since that time the initial group of eight people have:

  • established a group of twenty people, and a sponsorship team of six guarantors (Bob and Wendy Atkinson, Jane Field, Heinz Rieger, Roger Touw, Bev Vanstone)
  • raised $12,000 so far, with significant additional pledges made from individuals towards a goal of $40-45,000
  • worked toward planning a major fundraising event in April including musical acts and a silent auction
  • developed a partnership with Pawsitively Pets for Kids for a street fair and fundraiser in May
  • Council has endorsed the sponsorship initiative and called a Congregational Meeting
  • organized a Lunch ‘n’ Learn on January 10th with a well-respected speaker that was very well attended by the congregation
  • collaborated with Leaside United and Manor Road United, as well as Anglican-United Refugee Response (AURA)
  • made connections with neighbours in North Leaside, leading to financial support and awareness-building
  • participated in educational events at City Hall and other area churches such as St. Clement’s, and attended refugee related seminars in the City of Toronto in order to build up community contacts and share experiences.
  • worked to build links with Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office to facilitate the eventual settlement and integration of a refugee family.

Council Action:

At its meeting on January 20, 2016 Council approved a Motion that underlines, first of all, that refugee sponsorship is in line with Northlea’s Mission and approach to outreach ministry, and will be approached in partnership with the wider United Church of Canada:

“Whereas Northlea United Church is called to be faithful to God’s vision for humanity and creation as revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ:

“We confirm that our faithful action, as part of our congregational outreach work, will include the support of refugees in our community as they seek to establish new lives in Canada.

“This is a reflection of Northlea’s Mission: We encourage each other as we: Love God; Connect with others; Nurture the spirit; Serve the world.

“We further confirm that the implementation of this programme, working toward the sponsorship of refugees to be settled in or near the Leaside/Thorncliffe Park communities of Toronto, will be in partnership with the Anglican-United Refugee Alliance (AURA) and the United Church of Canada.”

Council then also approved a second Motion to specifically endorse the request from the Refugee Response Group that Northlea enter an agreement to sponsor a Syrian refugee family in 2016:

“That the Council of Northlea United Church endorse the request from the Refugee Response Group that Northlea sponsor a refugee family as proposed, including financial guarantees and commitments of volunteer time and energy, within the United Church of Canada’s Sponsorship Holder’s Agreement; and that             this be taken to a Congregational Meeting on Sunday, February 7, 2016 to secure congregational ownership and support for this expression of Northlea United Church’s faith and mission.”

Motion for the Congregational Meeting:

  • the congregation of Northlea United Church Toronto affirm the decision of Council to proceed with sponsoring a refugee family from Syria; and
  • that as a congregation we will continue to learn together about the Syrian refugee situation, provide financial support as needed for resettlement, as well as donations of housewares and clothing as required, and volunteer time, energy, and encouragement to assist the family becoming settled and at home in this community.

February 2016 – Pancake Supper Fundraising

Cooks in the KitchenPancake Supper

At the Pancake Supper, February 9, 2016 Northlea raised funds for the Refugee Family. The Pancake Supper is an annual event – always fun!

April 7, 2016 – Northlea’s Spring Shower Fundraiser was held after service.  At this event, household items were donated in preparation for the refugee family.

For the kitchen – dishes, cooking utensils, pots, tableware, electric mixer, blender etc. For the bedroom – beds, mattresses, sheets, pillows, blankets and duvets. For the bathroom, we collected new towels, facecloths, shower curtain, mats) and also cleaning supplies. Donated as well were many items for a living room, and toys for children.  What a great day – thank you, everyone!

Spring Shower Refugee Fundraising Pictures

Spring To New Life – A Fundraising Evening for Syrian Refugees

On Saturday, April 30, Northlea United hosted an evening of song and story with featured guests Theresa Tova, David Warrack, Cara Matthew (accompanied by Rob Rowe (piano), Kelly Arrey (drums) and Ed Sweetman (bass), Roula Said, David Buchbinder and hosted by David Sparrow. Special appearance by Leaside Singers, a collaboration of local choirs.  A Silent Auction offered a fantastic array of “time & talent” and gift items from local business and Northlea community members.  All proceeds from the evening will go towards Northlea United’s Syrian Refugee Fund.

Saturday, May 7, 2016 – Pawsitively Pets for Kids and Northlea United Church partnered together for a big community event fundraiser. Maria Montessori School provided fabulous music and Toronto 132nd Scouts served up great-tasting hot dogs!

The Street Party event was an incredible success with close to five hundred people attending over a four hour period. Young families experienced great entertainment with pony rides, bouncing castles, live music and exotic animals to see and learn about. They were also well-fed – hot dogs, chips, coffee, pop, lemonade, candy floss, freezees and a bake sale!

Thank you for your contribution and for your generous support of this event! Funds raised will go directly to Northlea’s Syrian Refugee Fund. Many thanks to sponsors: Cobbs Bakery, Valumart, Loblaws, Patrick Rocca, Charlene Kalia, GrillTime, Neal Brothers, Starbucks, Kevin White and Jeffrey Marshall, Venture Scouts, Jon Burnside

We are pleased to inform you that a family from Syria is scheduled to arrive in our neighbourhood by mid-May and an apartment has been rented. Furnishings and household
items are in storage, ready to be moved into the unit.

Everyone on the committee is thrilled to be a part of helping this family settle into their new life in Canada.


Lunch and Learn at Northlea

Stefania Lunch and Learn Jan 10

In January 2016, Stefania Aburanch Dunlop was a guest speaker at a Lunch and Learn at Northlea. Stefania is the executive director of CampHire, a NGO dedicated to ‘rethinking’ refugees. Her stories and slides brought to us insight into the work that is done by her group which is dedicated to merging fundraising with entrepreneurship, education and mentorship to co-create a sustainable future for those living in refugee camps. Stefania’s presentation put some faces and stories to the news headlines.