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‘Life-changing’: Call for refugee sponsors as study suggests 4M Canadians open to it
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.
“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.
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.
“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.”
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
Diverse Republican presidential primary field sees an opening in 2024 with voters of color
CHICAGO (AP) — During Donald Trump’s first visit as president to Chicago, a frequent target in his attacks on urban violence, he disparaged the nation’s third largest city as a haven for criminals and a national embarrassment.
At a recent town hall, Republican presidential contender Vivek Ramaswamy sat alongside ex-convicts on the city’s South Side and promised to defend Trump’s “America First” agenda. In return, the little-known White House hopeful, a child of Indian immigrants, found a flicker of acceptance in a room full of Black and brown voters.
The audience nodded when Ramaswamy said that “anti-Black racism is on the rise,” even if they took issue with his promise to eliminate affirmative action and fight “woke” policies.
“America First applies to all Americans — not just the few that Republicans talk to,” he said.
Race has emerged as a central issue — and a delicate one — in the 2024 presidential contest as the GOP’s primary field so far features four candidates of color, making it among the most racially diverse ever.
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the first Black senator in the South since Reconstruction, entered the contest earlier in the month. He joined Nikki Haley, a former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador who is of Indian descent, and Larry Elder, an African American raised in Los Angeles’ South Central neighborhood who came to national attention as a candidate in the failed effort two years ago to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who is of Cuban descent, says he may enter the race in the coming days.
Most of the candidates of color are considered underdogs in a field currently dominated by Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Yet the party’s increasingly diverse leadership, backed by evolving politics on issues such as immigration, suggest the GOP may have a real opportunity in 2024 to further weaken the Democrats’ grip on African Americans and Latinos. Those groups have been among the most loyal segments of the Democratic coalition since Republican leaders fought against the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The Republican presidential contenders of 2024 walk a fine line when addressing race with the GOP’s overwhelmingly white primary electorate.
In most cases, the diverse candidates in the Republican field play down the significance of their racial heritage. They all deny the existence of systemic racism in the United States even while discussing their own personal experience with racial discrimination. They oppose policies around policing, voting rights and educationthat are specifically designed to benefit disadvantaged communities and combat structural racism.
The NAACP recently issued a travel advisory for the state of Florida under DeSantis’ leadership, warning of open hostility “toward African Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals.” The notice calls out new policies enacted by the governor that include blocking public schools from teaching students about systemic racism and defunding programs aimed at diversity, equity and inclusion.
The Republican presidential candidates of color largely support DeSantis’ positions.
Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, said the GOP’s policies are far more important than the racial and ethnic diversity of their presidential candidates. He noted there also were four Republican candidates of color in 2016, the year Trump won the White House after exploiting tensions over race and immigration.
“White nationalists, insurrectionists and white supremacists seem to find comfort in the (Republican) Party,” Morial said. “I think we’re beyond the politics of just the face of a person of color by itself appealing to people of color. What do you stand for?”
With few exceptions, the Republican candidates who have entered the presidential primary field have embraced the GOP’s “anti-woke” agenda, which is based on the notion that policies designed to address systemic inequities related to race, gender or sexuality are inherently unfair or even dangerous.
DeSantis this past week described such policies as “cultural Marxism.”
Still, the GOP’s diverse field is not ignoring race. Indeed, some candidates are making their race a central theme in their appeal to Republican primary voters even as they deny that people of color face systemic challenges.
Scott insisted that America is not a racist country in his recent announcement speech.
“We are not defined by the color of our skin. We are defined by the content of our character. And if anyone tells you anything different, they’re lying,” he said.
In her announcement video, Haley noted that she was raised in a small town in South Carolina as “the proud daughter of Indian immigrants — not black, not white, I was different.” Like Scott, she has defended the GOP against charges of racism.
“Some think our ideas are not just wrong, but racist and evil,” Haley said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
Elder is quick to criticize the Democrats’ “woke” agenda, Black Lives Matter and the notion of systemic racism.
Critics say such messages are actually designed to win over suburban white voters more than to attract voters of color. But on the South Side of Chicago on a recent Friday afternoon, there were signs that some Black voters were open to the GOP’s new messengers, given their frustration with both political parties.
One attendee at Ramaswamy’s town hall waved a flyer for a “Biden boycott” because the Democratic president has not signaled whether he supports reparations for the descendants of slaves, although Biden did back a congressional effort to study the issue. None of the GOP’s presidential candidates supports reparations, either.
Others condemned Democrats, in Chicago and in Washington, for working harder to help immigrants who are in the country illegally than struggling African American citizens.
Federal officials were preparing to relocate hundreds of migrants from the U.S.-Mexico border to the South Side, even as many local residents struggled with violence and difficult economic conditions.
“It is certainly true that there are multiple shades of melanin in this Republican race,” Ramaswamy said in an interview before the event. “I think that in some ways dispels the myth that much of the left will perpetuate that this is somehow you know, a racist party or whatever drivel.”
He added: “But personally, I could care less what someone’s skin color is. I think what matters is, what are they going to accomplish? What’s their vision?”
As of now, the GOP does not have any Hispanic candidates in the 2024 contest. But Suarez, the Miami mayor, said he may change that in the coming days.
“I think it’s important the field does have candidates that can connect with and motivate Hispanics to continue a trend that’s already happening,” he said in an interview, noting that he’s “very strongly” considering a White House bid. “Democrats have failed miserably to connect with Hispanics.”
A majority of Latino voters supported Biden in the 2020 presidential contest, according to AP VoteCast, an extensive national survey of the electorate. But Trump cut into that support in some competitive states, including Florida and Nevada, revealing important shifts among Latinos from many different cultural backgrounds.
In last fall’s midterm elections, support grew for Republican candidates among Black voters, although they remained overwhelmingly supportive of Democrats, AP Votecast found. Overall, Republican candidates were backed by 14% of Black voters, compared with 8% in the midterm elections four years earlier.
While the shifts may be relatively small, strategists in both parties acknowledge that any shift is significant given how close some elections may be in 2024.
In Chicago, Tyrone Muhammad, who leads Ex-Cons for Social Change, lashed out at Republicans for being “losers” for not seizing a very real opportunity to win over more African Americans. While sitting next to Ramaswamy on stage, he also declared that the Republican Party is racist.
Later, he said he actually voted for Trump in 2020 because Trump enacted a criminal justice bill that aimed to shorten prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders and address racial inequalities in the justice system. While the GOP has since embraced tough-on-crime rhetoric, Muhammed noted that Biden as a senator helped pass the 1994 crime bill that led to the mass incarceration of Black people.
Muhammad said he might vote Republican again in 2024, despite the party’s shortcomings. He pointed to the GOP’s fight against illegal immigration as a core reason for support.
“I may not like you as an individual, but I like your issues, I like your policies,” he said.
Fields reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Thomas Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.
Stars stay alive with 4-2 road victory over Golden Knights
Dallas Stars celebrate after defeating the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference finals Saturday, May 27, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
By Mark Anderson in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS (AP) — With Dallas’ season on the line, the Stars got two critical goals from a player who was a healthy scratch the first two games of the Western Conference final.
Ty Dellandrea’s goals came within a 1:27 span midway through the third period, and the Stars beat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-2 on Saturday to keep alive their hopes of advancing to the Stanley Cup final to face the Florida Panthers.
“He’s one of the best guys I’ve ever played with,” said Stars goalie Jake Oettinger, who made 27 saves. “He deserves every opportunity he gets, and there’s no one happier for him than the guys in this room.
“It shows how special you are when you get taken out. He didn’t make it about him. He needed the opportunity to step up, and that’s what he did.”
The Stars escaped elimination for the second straight game and head to Dallas for Game 6 on Monday night down 3-2. Dallas is attempting to become the fifth team in NHL history to win a series after being down 3-0.
And look who’s back for the Stars? Captain Jamie Benn returns after a two-game suspension for his cross-check to the neck of Vegas captain Mark Stone in Game 3. That was the only game in this series that was decided early, and until Saturday the Stars hadn’t even had a multigoal lead.
“I know our group, and we weren’t happy about being in the hole we were in, and they decided to do something about it,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “And now we’re rolling.”
The only problem for DeBoer was waiting two days to play Game 6.
“Drop the puck,” he said.
DeBoer said before the game if his team won, the pressure would shift to the Knights. Now it’s up to them to respond after twice being a period away from playing in the Stanley Cup final and letting both opportunities slip away.
“I don’t think we brought our best the last two games,” Stone said. “We were still in a good spot to win the game. We’ve got to bring a little bit better effort and start playing a little more desperate.”
Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said “it’s a very good question” why his team didn’t play with more desperation, but he also wasn’t thrilled with the Knights’ execution.
“We had 24 giveaways,” Cassidy said. “I’m not sure you’re beating the Arizona Coyotes in January with 24 giveaways. That’s no disrespect to Arizona, but it’s not the right way to play.”
Dellandrea found the right way to play and put together the first multigoal playoff game of his career. Jason Robertson and Luke Glendening also scored, and Thomas Harley had two assists.
Chandler Stephenson and Ivan Barbashev scored for the Knights, and Jonathan Marchessault had two assists to extend his points streak to four games. Adin Hill made 30 saves.
Dellandrea scored from the right circle to put Dallas ahead, the puck deflecting off Vegas defenceman Alex Pietrangelo with 9:25 left for a 3-2 lead. Then, Dellandrea scored from the slot with 7:58 remaining.
Dellandrea said the older players kept him motivated when he was temporarily sidelined.
“There’s no denying it’s hard,” he said. “I’m thankful for a good group of character guys, and you’ve just got to stay ready.”
The teams traded goals in the first two periods.
Jack Eichel battled two Stars players for the puck in Vegas’ offensive zone, and then Barbashev swooped in and made a fantastic move to glide past Oettinger and score with 6:24 left in the first period. The Stars wasted little time in answering when Glendening scored on a deflection less than two minutes later.
Dallas was robbed of what looked like a sure goal when Hill snagged a point-blank shot from Roope Hintz, who then threw his back in disbelief.
Like in the first period, the Knights had a goal in the second quickly answered by one from the Stars. Stephenson scored from the left circle at 16:40 of the period, and Robertson knocked his own rebounds 2:09 later to make it 2-2. Stephenson tied the Knights’ record with his eight playoff goal this year, and Robertson had his fifth of the series.
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