Petrolia may host Syrian refugee family


Petrolia council is getting behind a plan which could see Syrian refugees live in the community.

The Lambton Anglican Refugee Committee is one of the many community groups trying to bring Syrian refugees to Canada. The federal government wants to settle 10,000 people here before February in a bid to ease the suffering of some of the millions of people who have left the war-torn country.

Petrolia resident Sylvia Fairbank is working with the Lambton committee which hopes to bring two families to the area.

“The Lambton Anglican Refugee Committee is hoping that one of the families can be supported her in Petrolia,” she told councillors Monday.

Fairbank says the federal government provides money for resettlement but the local committee will have to raise about $34,000 to bring one family of four and another with six members to Lambton County.

And while raising money is important, Fairbank says volunteers to help will be key to whether a Syrian family calls Petrolia home.

“We have the education system, we have the health care, we have English as a Second Language services right here,” she tells The Independent “but to bring people here we need a volunteer base of 20 to 25 people to help.”

Fairbank says three or four key people will be in direct contact with the family and others will be needed to do things such as driving people to doctors appointments or getting them to the grocery store each week. They’ll also need people to raise money to bring the families here.

Fairbank says there is also a need for a home for the family.  Fairbank says there will be money available for rent, but she says in other communities people have donated a home for the refugees. While that would be welcomed, Fairbank is hoping to have at least “an adjustment” on the rent charged.

Fairbank says the task seems daunting but believes it can be done. “If Petrolia gets together we can support a family…the only way we can do it is if it is a community effort.”

Petrolia council endorsed the effort with a motion Monday without committing any cash to the project.

Fairbank says an information night is planned for Dec. 21 between 5 and 7 pm at the Christ Church in Petrolia for those interested in helping. Donations can be mad at Christ Church or by calling Fairbank at 519-882-0394.

“Once we have the money and the volunteer structure in place, they could be here within one to four months,” says Fairbank.