The 25,000 member Victoria Labour Council today announced their intention to join with United Way Greater Victoria to welcome and support the resettlement of Syrian refugees arriving in the Capital Region. “The ongoing conflict in Syria has forced more than 4 million Syrians to flee their homeland in search of safety causing untold human suffering,” said Michael Eso, President of the Victoria Labour Council. “We have the capacity and a duty to welcome and support refugees just as we have done in previous generations.”

Canada has a proud history of resettling refugees in large numbers – from Hungarian refugees in the 1950s, to Ismaili Muslim refugees in the 1970s, to Vietnamese refugees fleeing by boat in the 1970s, to Kosovar and Bosnian refugees in the 1990s. “United Way is pleased to provide support for programs aimed at ensuring successful resettlement for Syrian refugees in Greater Victoria. By raising funds and collecting donations that will provide for a network of services to help refugees build new lives free of conflict. United Way is focused on areas where our sector must engage: resettlement, integration and inclusion,” said Patricia Jelinski, CEO United Way Greater Victoria. “We are also working with our partners in the community, including labour, to address the short term and ongoing needs of refugees and we welcome labour’s support and participation in the efforts to meet the needs of these new Canadians.”

Since 1986, United Way has funded partners such as the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA) to help immigrants, newcomers and refugees settle into their new community and learn the language and culture, while offering long-term support in essentials such as education and employment. United Way currently funds a program dedicated to building the capacity of businesses, community groups and agencies to better serve refugees and immigrants.

“The Labour Council will be encouraging affiliated Unions and their members to help support the United Way in raising funds and collecting donations to support the resettlement of Syrian refugees in our community,” said Eso. “In this holiday season we encourage everyone to make a donation through United Way to support this important cause.”

Donations to United Way are accepted at workplaces, United Way’s office at 1144 Fort Street, via phone (250) 385-6708 or online at uwgv.ca.

Contributions will help Syrian refugees with:

Counselling – everything from advice on how to use public transit, obtain healthcare, visit the grocery store, and get children signed up for school.

Pre-employment supports assessing their skills and readying them to enter the job market.

Employment supports including job training and connecting them with opportunities.

Mental health support to help them recover from trauma they’ve faced.

English language training.

For further information, please contact: Michael Eso, President – VLC, cell (250) 208-6339.