Entertainment All the Celebrities Who Have Adopted Children
Rows of children's shoes make up moving memorial
Rows of children’s shoes lined the steps of Assumption Church on Monday, a moving memorial to the 215 Indigenous children whose bodies were found buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia on Thursday. The dozens and dozens of small shoes were among many memorials like it across Canada, inspired by an artist in Vancouver who collected 215 pairs, one for each child who died, and placed them on the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery. About 75 people attended the memorial here at Assumption at 2:15 p.m., for 215 seconds, signifying the number of children taken from their families who never returned.
Karina Reid watched as the little boy, fascinated by the running tap water, jumped into the bathtub.
“This is the best day of my life!” then four-year-old Delphin said.
Delphin and his pregnant mother Atosha Ngage had just arrived in Canada earlier that day in February 2019. They stayed at a refugee camp in Namibia after leaving their home in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The little family arrived in Canada through the Blended Visa Office Referred Refugees (BVOR) program, one of the country's three resettlement streams to sponsor refugees. Reid, along with five of her friends, sponsored Ngage, who was pregnant with her second child, and Delphin.
What Demi Lovato's non-binary revelation means for the LGBTQ community
Through the years celebrities such as Sam Smith, Elliot Page and now Demi Lovato have all come out in very public ways. But some say these stars are far removed from the reality of LGBTQ folks. The pop star came out as non-binary on Wednesday, changing their pronouns to they/them. Lovato is arguably one of the biggest celebrities to come out publicly — the 28-year-old singer was a well-known Disney Channel star before launching a music career more than a decade ago.
“It was the most life-changing experience for them but also for me,” Reid said in an interview. “It changed my entire view of the world.”
Reid is one of the many Canadians who have brought a refugee family to Canada via the BVOR program. It’s the most distinctive of the three refugee resettlement programs; the others are Government-Assisted Refugees (GAR) and Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR).
The BVOR program allows private citizens and non-governmental organizations to step up and sponsor individuals or families with whom they don’t have prior relationships.
“We also refer to this kind of sponsorship model as ‘sponsoring the stranger,’” said Louisa Taylor, director of Refugee 613, a communications hub that works to build inclusion and welcome newcomers.
Opinion: Entire communities need to support children's learning post-pandemic
As we move through the new Re-Opening Road Map for Saskatchewan , it is beginning to feel like the end of the pandemic is near. As a community, we are eager to return to “normal,” or as close to normal as we can get. While children have a bit of a longer road ahead of them due to vaccines not yet being approved for those under 12 , it is time for us to take a hard look at what our children need from us as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. © Provided by Leader Post Kids play at one of the attractions during the opening day for the Nutrien Wonderhub in Saskatoon on June 28, 2019.
Taylor said people in her circle know how "powerful" and "transformational" the experience of sponsorship can be for both newcomers and sponsors. Usually, these stories are relayed through word of mouth, such as Reid's case.
However, there has been no data or resources to help promote the BVOR program properly, Taylor said.
“So recruiting new sponsors has long been a struggle,” she said.
In the hopes to rectify this, Refugee 613 partnered with the Environics Institute to conduct a market study on refugee sponsorship in Canada. The project was funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada but all data gathered are owned by Refugee 613 and Environics.
The study involved a representative sample of 3,000 Canadians ages 25 and over and with household incomes of $30,000 or more, which translates to roughly 24 million individuals.
Results suggest close to one-fifth of the target population, who haven't been involved in sponsoring a refugee or refugee family yet, say they could definitely or likely see themselves participating in the program at some point over the next few years.
20 remakes that are way better than the original
Sometimes, remakes can end up being a very bad idea (the new versions of Psycho and Arthur come to mind). But there are some reimaginings that blow their predecessors out of the water. Here are 20 films where the second (or third, or fourth) time was the charm.
“This translates into a pool of approximately four million Canadians who are open to potential recruitment into the program,” the report reads.
In contrast with BVOR, the Private Sponsorship of Refugees program has had no issues with recruiting sponsors, Taylor said.
“For the most part, PSR sponsors are motivated because they are sponsoring a relative or a friend or a friend of a friend,” she said. “So the PSR program has largely become a way to reunite families.”
Between 2015 and 2016, when Canadians became exposed to the idea of supporting Syrian refugees and the issue of refugee resettlement became an issue, Taylor said the BVOR program was oversubscribed.
However, since then, the program's annual target of around 1,000 people has never been met.
“That causes a lot of pressure within government if you’re not meeting your targets,” Taylor said. “You're seen as a failed program.”
Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino told reporters Friday that BVOR is one of those streams that had some challenges around "finding a proper alignment between what the community needs and what is the best fit for refugees."
Are the feds really ‘fighting Indigenous kids in court’? Here’s what we know
'Canada is going to go back to court and argue against these kids,' Cindy Blackstock said. 'This time, we are not going to let them get away with it.'While opposition politicians and advocates alike have called on the government to drop the legal battle and, as one NDP press release put it, “stop fighting Indigenous kids in court,” the government says the reality of the case is a bit more complicated.
Taylor said the new data proves that there’s still interest in sponsoring refugees and refugee families to Canada.
“The next question is: how do we reach them and what messages do we share with them to show them that not only is there still a need, there's a whole spectrum of organizations ready and willing to walk people through this process?” she said.
“They may just find it's the most powerful experience of their lives.”
It’s been more than two years since Reid and her friend picked up Atosha Ngage and Delphin at the airport. Since then, there have been powerful memories shared between people who were once complete strangers.
They've made snow angels, gone to the pool and shared lots of laughs.
Reid said the program is one of the best-hidden gems in Canada. Through it, she met people she would treasure for a long time.
“The BVOR program is life-changing,” Reid said. “It opens doors to curiosity, understanding and wanting to make your community a better place like.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 20, 2021.
Arvin Joaquin, The Canadian Press
Your letters for June 2 .
A long way to go in Canada Re: Unmarked graves proof of residential school horrors, June 1 We recently learned the devastating news that the graves of 215 Indigenous children were discovered beneath a former residential school in Kamloops. Within days of the announcement, I had two separate interactions with other white men (like myself). While insisting they weren’t racist, both men downplayed the toxic effect of racism. They were far more concerned about “political correctness” and of not being able to say what they really think. When I asked what they thought of the horrific discovery in Kamloops, they said it was sad, but it happened a long time ago.