“The condition of the poor and oppressed in fact becomes the test of God’s redeeming presence and of human justice.”
– J. Charles Hay, former Moderator
Thursday, June 20 marks World Refugee Day, a day to raise awareness about the plight of refugees around the world. To recognize World Refugee Day, PWS&D encourages individuals and congregations to adopt the Proud to Protect Refugees campaign.
A Tradition of Protecting Refugees
Canada has a strong tradition of protecting refugees.
Since World War II, Central and Eastern Europeans, Jews from North Africa and the former Soviet Union, Asians from Uganda, Chileans, Central Americans and many others fleeing persecution have found refuge in our borders. With but few exceptions, they have become productive citizens and enriched Canada.
Over the years, Canadian churches have been in the forefront of refugee protection, both in Canada and overseas.
Within The Presbyterian Church in Canada, numerous congregations have enthusiastically sponsored refugees, providing financial and emotional support during the first year of life in Canada. Through PWS&D, they also provide refugees overseas with food, water, and shelter.
This work informs and supports the gospel call to “Welcome the Stranger.”
Times are Changing
Much of this work has occurred against a backdrop of anti-refugee rhetoric. Increasingly, in the media, on the internet, and in government, pejorative references to refugees as bogus, fraudsters, criminals, etc. are used, stigmatizing and even vilifying refugees.
A new refugee law, implemented in December 2012, makes it more difficult to find asylum in Canada. The number of refugees who can be sponsored from overseas by churches and other groups has been “capped.” Health services to non-government supported refugees arriving in Canada have been slashed.
Proud to Protect
During a time where refugees face a negative public discourse and increasing government restrictions, PWS&D is reaffirming our support of refugees by endorsing the Canadian Council for Refugees’ Proud to Protect Refugees Campaign. The 139th General Assembly affirmed this desire to send a positive message about refugees.
The campaign encourages individuals and groups to:
- Adopt the ‘Proud to Protect Refugees’ slogan and theme for activities,
- Publicize support for the campaign,
- Promote positive messages about refugees,
- Use social media to show why you support and welcome refugees. Like the Canadian Council for Refugees on Facebook or use the Twitter hashtag #proudtoprotectrefugees, and
- Raise refugee voices (i.e. create safe opportunities for refugees to share their stories).
For information, resources, and action ideas visit the Canadian Council of Refugees website or contact PWS&D Refugee Sponsorship Coordinator Rob Shropshire.