Seminar: Three Ways Your Church Can Prepare to Welcome Refugee Claimants in the Post-Pandemic World

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To provide pastors/ministers and lay leaders with practical opportunities for welcoming and providing support for refugee claimant newcomers to Canada.

Refugee claimants are those who cross international borders seeking reprieve
from their trauma and safety from persecution. In 2019, 3850 refugee claimants
arrived in British Columbia. In 2020, with the pandemic causing border closures
and restrictions on international travel, there were still 2165 refugee claims made
in BC.

In 2021, there is pent-up demand for those who are forcibly displaced to move to
spaces of refuge. Government agencies are partnering with local organizations to
plan and prepare for an anticipated surge in refugee claimant arrivals when the
borders reopen.

Many of the people who arrive in Canada seeking refugee protection face numerous
challenges and vulnerabilities. No one is there to meet them at the airport or border.
They have no idea where to go or what to do next. Refugee claimants struggle to
navigate complex systems and to meet their basic needs like finding shelter.
Connecting to social networks, to people they can trust, is something they long for,
yet struggle to make happen.

You can help.

Join this seminar to learn how you can enable yourself and your church to welcome
unsupported refugee claimants. Explore what it takes to effectively welcome refugee
claimants, learn of ways to collaborate with local organizations, and bring your
creativity and care to "welcome the stranger."

Three local Christian organizations are collaborating in this seminar to highlight the vulnerabilities of this population group, discuss the ethos of biblical kinship and offer practical opportunities for local church involvement in welcoming and walking with refugee claimants.

Speakers include:

Richard Belcham, Executive Director - Inasmuch Community Society
Richard Belcham is Executive Director of Inasmuch Community Society in Abbotsford
and Co-Chair of MAP BC. Inasmuch provides transition housing, settlement services
and customized employment support for refugee claimants in the Fraser Valley. He is
a passionate advocate for refugee claimants and loves to remove barriers to service
access, giving them the very best start to their new lives in Canada.

He has an extensive background in HR, corporate communications and marketing.
Originally from the UK, Richard immigrated to Canada in 2011 and has been a resident
of the Fraser Valley ever since.

Richard is also host of the Along the Way podcast featuring refugee stories.

Brad Kinnie, Program Manager - Journey Home Community

Born out of a church home group in 2005, Journey Home Community (JHC)
offers refugee claimants housing, settlement support, and opportunities for
connection. JHC strategically partners with local churches to expand its ability to
meet the needs and provide a welcoming and inclusive experience for vulnerable
refugee claimant families who are experiencing homelessness.

Brad Kinnie graduated from Regent College in 2012 with a Masters of Christian
Studies focusing on the mission of the Church. He joined Journey Home
Community in 2009 and has served as Program Manager for the past eight
years.

On June 1, Brad will assume a new role as JHC’s Executive Director.

Loren Balisky, Director of Engagement - Kinbrace Community Society
Launched in 1998 as a neighbourhood initiative of Grandview Church, Kinbrace
is BC’s longest-serving dedicated housing and support provider for refugee
claimants. Guided daily by five core values - welcome, trust, mutual
transformation, celebration, and prayer - Kinbrace is a learning and growing
community of neighbours, churches, refugee claimants, and diverse others
committed to a spacious welcome.

Loren Balisky is a Kinbrace co-founder and current Director of Engagement. His
own quest for belonging inspires (in part) his welcome of people seeking refugee
protection.

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