Canadian Programs

Our work has promoted and supported community sponsorship and access to justice for refugees in Canada. We have mobilized, coordinated, and leveraged nimble, high-impact, and innovative multi-stakeholder and multi-sectoral partnerships to respond to emerging refugee protection needs.

Community sponsorship is a transformative tool. By giving private citizens the primary responsibility for welcoming and integrating refugees into their new communities, community sponsorship facilitates creative, grassroots interventions and unique partnerships that mobilize actors in support of refugee protection – something that is critical for the survival of both resettlement and the broader protection system.

Key partnerships and initiatives in Canada:

•  Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) Funds 2018-2019: The Refugee Hub in collaboration with Jewish Family Services and founding donors the Shapiro Foundation and the Giustra Foundation established this fund to catalyze new sponsorship groups to form and welcome refugees under Canada’s BVOR program. Over the course of two years of the fund’s operation, more than $7M was raised to support the sponsorship of close to 2,000 additional refugees to Canada.

•  The Refugee Sponsorship Support Program (RSSP): Launched in 2015, the RSSP rapidly mobilized and trained more than 1,400 Canadian lawyers and law students on the complex application process for Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program, and matched volunteers to Canadians coast to coast seeking to sponsor refugees during Canada’s “Operation Syrian Refugee.” The RSSP continues to provide pro bono legal support to Canadian sponsors, and is now housed within the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program.

•  The Canadian Cross-Border Legal Coalition (CCBLC): In 2018, the Refugee Hub together with the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, and colleagues in the US launched the CCBLC to coordinate a network of Canadian lawyers working to help those impacted by the US President’s Executive Order banning entry to the US by individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries, including refugees. The CCBLC was the recipient of the Ontario Bar Association’s President’s Award.

•  The University of Ottawa Refugee Assistance Project (UORAP): The Refugee Hub conducted research and developed tools to mitigate access-to-justice barriers in Canada’s asylum system. This program used a unique train-the-trainer model to develop and deliver evidence-based training modules to over 350 front-line workers in shelters and reception houses. The objective was to equip these non-legally trained workers to help asylum seekers gather evidence to support their claims for protection. Tools created under UORAP continue to be publicly available through Community Legal Education Ontario.