Networking

2

Volunteer with our Review Subcommittee in 2021

Ever felt like volunteering, but not sure where to begin?

Rainbow Foundation of Hope (RFOH) relies on community support to help us review grant applications from our National Partners.

They are Canadian registered charities leading projects and programs for LGBT+ refugees and newcomers (i.e., SOGIE migrants) through three RFOH funding streams:

Whenever RFOH receives a new application, we draw upon a growing database of community volunteers on our Review Subcommittee to review and evaluate each application.

The process provides transparency and accountability of our grant administration process to volunteers and donors.

Commit whatever time you can. Each application is based purely on your interest and availability. We look for a minimum of two (2) community representatives outside of the RFOH Board of Directors to help with a goal of 50% community representation.

Over 30 volunteers have helped us with the review process to date. Message us at volunteer@foundationofhope.net and we’ll happily add you to our growing list.

6

Explaining Private Sponsorship of LGBT+ Refugees in Canada

Did you know that citizens and permanent residents of Canada can sponsor LGBT+ asylum seekers or refugees that qualify for resettlement as newly settled migrants (i.e., newcomers)?

You can apply through the federal Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program (PSRP). Support for each newcomer is expected over the length of the resettlement (at least one year).

It includes help to find housing, clothing and food, as well as to provide social and emotional support. Private sponsors will also be expected to have the necessary funds to support any sponsored individual(s).

 

This is where RFOH fits in.

 

In fact, the very process is what brought the folks in Vancouver together, first as private sponsors to two gay Syrian refugees. It later led us to create Rainbow Foundation of Hope.

There are a few things you need to know, so this blog post discusses the many ways to privately sponsor LGBT+ refugees in Canada through the PSRP.

Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH)

Sponsorship agreement holders are groups in Canada, often registered charities and faith-based organizations, holding agreements with the Government of Canada to help support refugees with the support of Canadian citizens as private sponsors.

Rainbow Foundation of Hope awards grants for sponsorship support, which tend to involve SAHs and include private sponsors known as Constituent Groups (CG) working with co-sponsoring organizations like Rainbow Refugee (Vancouver), Capital Rainbow Refuge (Ottawa), and Rainbow Railroad (Toronto) as relevant examples.

As registered Canadian charities, each co-sponsoring organization is directly eligible for grants from RFOH of up to $7,500 per application on behalf of the CG. Eligible applicants for private sponsorship support must demonstrate collaboration through affiliation with Rainbow Refugee and the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Partnership (RRAP). 

Blended Visa Office-Referred Program (BVOR)

The Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) program involves Canadians working as private sponsors with the Government of Canada to support refugees that have been referred by the UNHCR. These individuals tend to be particularly vulnerable and in urgent need of asylum and resettlement.

BVOR applicants hold Refugee status under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). These individuals are otherwise known as “Convention Refugees“.

The definition of grounds for refugee status comes from the 1951 UN Convention signed in Geneva, Switzerland:

 

Persecution is a threat to life or freedom because of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

 

The UNHCR identifies the refugees for private sponsorship under the BVOR program. Rainbow Refugee Association of Nova Scotia (RRANS) and St. Andrews-Wesley United Church are examples of Canadian organizations actively working to resettle refugees through the BVOR program. 

Community Sponsor (CS)

Community Sponsor is an organization, association, or corporation sponsoring one or more Convention Refugees to come to Canada. The CS similarly must also represent or be aligned with a registered charity to receive and administer FOH grants.

Joint Assistance Sponsorship Program (JAS)

The Joint Assistance Sponsorship Program involves organizations that work as partners with the Government of Canada to resettle refugees with special needs. Refugees coming to Canada through JAS are considered highly vulnerable and tend to require the greatest level of care and support during resettlement.

Rainbow Refugee Assistance Partnership (RRAP)

Only SAHs working with a CG across Canada through Rainbow Refugee in Vancouver are eligible for resettlement assistance under the RRAP. This government program was the initiative of and remains administered by Rainbow Refugee Society in Vancouver.

Rainbow Refugee identifies its Constituent Groups as Circles of Hope.

The RRAP provides government assistance to LGBT+ refugees across Canada for the first three months of resettlement. It also permits LGBT+ refugee sponsorship applications to be reviewed in Canadian visa offices around the world. This includes “safe countries” where SOGIE persecution exists, but would otherwise not accept refugee claims. Finally, it ensures that SAHs have capacity to take on LGBT+ private sponsorships without having to factor them into their annual resettlement quotas.

The RRAP is a valuable mechanism for enabling LGBT+ refugees to escape persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (i.e., as SOGIE migrants). Rainbow Foundation of Hope supports the efforts of Canadian civil society groups working to ensure the RRAP can remain a regular element of the PSRP in Canada.

Rainbow Coalition for Refugee (RC4R)

In 2019, thanks to extensive efforts by the Rainbow Coalition for Refuge (RC4R) to actively consult the federal government, the RRAP was expanded for another 5 five years with an $800,000 funding commitment. Support from our corporate partnership with TD Bank has also helped to financially backed RC4R consultation efforts with the Government of Canada.

All six of the RC4R founding members have received grants from RFOH.

This is all thanks to donations that have come from Canadians through our grassroots fundraising efforts led by our flagship event known as STRUT. Across Canada, RC4R member organizations include:

Rainbow Refugee in Vancouver
End of the Rainbow in Calgary
Rainbow Railroad and Metropolitan Community Church in Toronto
Capital Rainbow Refuge in Ottawa
Rainbow Refugee Association of Nova Scotia in Halifax

12

2017: the year Canada really got Proud

“Privilege is invisible to those that have it”

~ Terri Currie, TD Bank

In August of this year, as Foundation of Hope Board Directors, Chad Wilkinson and I were privileged to attend an LGBT+ human rights conference in Montréal. It was an integral part of the inaugural 2017 Fierté Canada Pride, a landmark celebration for the entire nation. We are deeply grateful to TD Bank for the Aeroplan miles donated that offered us travel to attend as we work to grow FOH nationally.

The conference on LGBTTIQA2S Lives: Our Struggles, Our Victories, Our Challenges brought LGBT+ organizations together from across the country with the goal of building a stronger network and deeper connections. It was a chance to showcase Canadian pride in our LGBT+ community. The conference promoted visibility of LGBT+ folks and advocated for continued advancements of LGBT+ rights in Canada.

What I learned at the conference will undoubtedly benefit FOH moving forward. The range of emotions felt and several learning moments throughout the conference were tremendous for me. Not only did it demonstrate the fantastic work being done in different communities across Canada and the world, but it also highlighted the work still needed, differences co-existing within the community, gaps needing to be filled, the importance of coming together, and all members of the community (along with allies) so exceptionally dedicated to the cause.

At the conference, I learned about the impact of immigration laws on transgender individuals. Specifically, Québec stipulates an individual must be a citizen of Canada before applying to change their gender identity on government identification. This is one of many areas requiring focused engagement through continual advocacy of LGBT+ Refugees, Asylum Seekers, and Newcomers to Canada. I also learned about Bill C-16, which received royal assent in Parliament on June 19, 2017 to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code to include gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.

Diverse representation of participants from various community groups, organizations, individuals, and academics allowed me to communicate with persons involved in the work, both at different levels and in different capacities. This provided a better understanding as a whole and in turn, greater appreciation for the work needed as FOH moves forward.

The Foundation of Hope connected and engaged with LGBT+ Refugee support and resettlement initiatives across Canada including AGIR MontréalDignity InitiativeAfrican Rainbow FamilyFranco Queer, and Centre de Solidarité Lesbienne (CSL is a recent grant award recipient thanks to the connection made at the conference). We were delighted to see representation from our important partners including Rainbow RefugeeRainbow Railroad and Egale. It afforded the opportunity to make these organizations aware of funding available through FOH to assist in their important humanitarian work with LGBT+ migrants.

To me, having such an opportunity propelled FOH in enhancing the Purpose and Mission to realize our Vision, as a national organization operating under a common umbrella from coast to coast to coast.

As I sit and write, I want to remind folks that FOH is entirely volunteer-based. We hold full-time jobs in our everyday lives, so it’s not always easy to manage our schedules, make the time, or afford trips across the country. It is so very worthwhile when we can make direct use of the generosity of TD Bank’s Aeroplan miles through its cause marketing program.

The power of community has the potential to rejuvenate and inspire. The field of work in which FOH remains so dedicated connects us to better understand the issues we face. After attending the conference, I returned to Vancouver with a greater sense of direction, inspiration, and strength. As a dedicated ally, I was thrilled to attend and am excited to see what comes next for the Foundation of Hope.

“Pride is the Opposite of Shame.”

~ Randy Boissonnault, Member of Parliament

The experience of Fierté Canada Pride was a highlight of 2017 for FOH in an historic year of achievement and recognition for Canada’s LGBT+ community.

As a Nation, Canada has never been in a better position to open our hearts to the global LBGT+ community.

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