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November 2015 - Syrian Refugee Crisis

​Statement Re. Syrian Refugee Crisis

Simcoe County is a diverse region home to more than 50,000 foreign born residents. Within our borders you can hear over 107 different languages being spoken. We have a long history of welcoming newcomers and sharing in their success stories as they've built businesses, filled labour shortages and positively contributed to the social and economic fabric and growth of our communities.

Through the Simcoe County Local Immigration Partnership, an initiative funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, we are working with community stakeholders and leaders to create welcoming communities by providing support systems, language and cultural competency training, networking opportunities and an abundance of resources that help our newcomers adapt and thrive to life in Simcoe County.

These initiatives, combined with the generosity and acceptance of our residents, position us well to support the federal government's pledge to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada – of which 10,000 Syrian refugees will be settled in Ontario.

As you know, early this year mayors across Canada joined together to pledge their support to the Syrian refugee initiative. Locally, I supported the Project Hope Campaign, led by Cardinal Thomas Collins. Many other County Councillors pledged their support, and the support of their municipalities to the Lifeline Syria initiative. Other Councillors have been involved in local citizen-led efforts.

While I am not surprised, I am deeply humbled and moved by the response of our residents in the wake of the Syrian refugee crisis. A growing number of community members have contacted the County seeking information on how to embrace and support refugee families. We have received inquiries from groups submitting sponsorship applications from Adjala-Tosorontio, Barrie, Essa, Midland, New Tecumseth, Orillia and Penetanguishene.

I am so proud that our region has stepped forward to support Syrian families in need through direct sponsorship. Given our history of acceptance, and the abundance of opportunity our region offers, I'm certain we will provide a welcoming and nurturing home to a number of Syrian refugee families.

I appreciate how the tragedy in Paris has caused some residents to question Canada's pledge. However, we must understand that Canada has and will always show leadership during humanitarian crises. The County of Simcoe, our municipalities and our residents share this same sense of social responsibility.

To this end, the County of Simcoe has recently created a fact sheet to assist community groups in developing settlement plans for the families they're supporting. The fact sheet also contains a resource section for community groups. Click here to access our fact sheet.

Together, let's maintain our welcoming spirit and tradition of helping those in desperate need of our assistance. We support the greater good. Not just within the borders of Simcoe County or our great country, but the greater good for all mankind.

Kindness knows no boundaries.

Gerry Marshall
Simcoe County Warden