A total of 198 government-sponsored Afghan refugees have arrived in Abbotsford this month.
The Government of Canada made a commitment to welcome at least 40,000 refugees and vulnerable Afghans to Canada and over the past year, more than 19,000 individuals have arrived.
This is the first large group of Afghans from a special charter to arrive in Abbotsford. Archway Community Services holds the contract to provide services to all Government-Assisted Refugees (GARs) settling in the Fraser Valley.
“Abbotsford has historically been a very welcoming place for newcomers,” stated Manpreet Grewal, Director of Multicultural and Immigrant Integration Services at Archway in a press release. “We have a large population of Mennonite settlers and churches which have sponsored waves of refugees for decades.”
Archway recently welcomed large groups of Syrians refugees starting in 2016 and 157 displaced Ukrainian individuals in 2022 so far.
The new Afghans refugees were greeted by staff from the Archway Resettlement Assistance program (RAP) who arranged for temporary accommodations in various hotels in the Fraser Valley.
The BC Muslim Association donated and delivered hampers and hot meals for the first two days. The Archway Food Bank will help with providing continued food to supplement the food allowance.
Staff are conducting needs assessment to see what support is needed in each case. RAP staff help the individuals with; health care, life skills, resources available, banking, filling out essential paperwork and forms as well as connecting them to other settlement services for up to six weeks.
After the initial support through RAP, refugees will be supported by various programs in the Pathways to Integration Services department at Archway. Settlement Workers will assist with the registration and integration of children and youth into schools. Adults who need English language classes will be connected to the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program.
Those wishing to help support the refugees financially can call 604-859-7681 or visit archway.ca/refugees. These funds will help cover shortfalls in funding for items like rental damage deposits and initial expenses like purchasing clothing, cookware and other household necessities.
“After being displaced and living in refugee camps for years, families are arriving with very few possessions or funds,” said Grewal. “They are starting over in a new country and we want to help them have the best start possible.”
Those wishing to volunteer, offer housing for rent or donate physical items can find more information at archway.ca/refugees.