Media Release

14/09/2015

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Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre – Office of Executive Director

Niagara Folk Arts rolls out strategy to assist Syrian refugees, seeks donations and sponsors.

As the Syrian refugee crisis has exploded onto the headlines of local newspapers and filled TV screens with shocking images, Canadians all over the country, including Niagara, are stepping forward with offers of assistance and questioning what more they can do to help. The Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre is responding with a grass roots community effort and is inviting local residents to get involved.

Niagara Folk Arts Executive Director Jeff Burch also sits on the Board of Directors of OCASI (Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants), a provincial body representing the settlement sector. At a recent meeting of the OCASI Board, Burch says he had the opportunity to discuss strategy with settlement sector leaders from across Ontario.

“Based on how other communities are responding we believe the Folk Arts can and should play a leadership role in our community’s response to this crisis,” said Burch. “While our core funding and responsibilities as an agency and staff are to help newcomers and re-settled refugees integrate into the community, we can as an organization utilize our own knowledge, fundraising dollars and volunteers to sponsor refugees, educate the community and help other organizations and individuals to sponsor Syrian refugee families.” The Folk Arts is currently updating its online communications and calendar to include details of fundraising, sponsorship, community engagement and educational opportunities. The community is encouraged to get involved right now in the following ways:

1. The Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre has set up a refugee assistance fund and is collecting charitable donations from across the Niagara Region. Cheques can be made out to “Niagara Folk Arts Refugee Assistance” and mailed to: 85 Church Street, St. Catharines, ON, L2R 3C7. Online donations will soon be possible at www.folk-arts.ca.
2. Any organization interested in partnership, education or assistance with respect to sponsorships is encouraged to email Jeff Burch, Executive Director, at [email protected]
3. Individual citizens interested in participating in Group 5 sponsorships should email [email protected] or become a volunteer through our website at www.folk-arts.ca.
4. Ethno-cultural Clubs and Associations are an important tool to help newcomers feel welcome in the community in which they settle. The Folk Arts will be setting up a new member association (Syrian Association of Niagara) at its next board of directors meeting. Syrian newcomers and re-settled refugees should contact [email protected] or the Newcomer Welcome Centre at 905-685-6589 ext 225 for more details.
5. Niagara Folk Arts will be hosting educational forums for the community at various locations across the Niagara Region where immigration lawyers and other experts in the field will inform and answer questions.

Information will be posted on the Folk Arts website and on social media. For more information or to arrange an interview contact Jeff Burch, Executive Director, 905-685-6589 ext 222; 905-327-5153; [email protected].

Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Centre is a community based non-profit charitable organization whose team of professional staff and volunteers provide vital settlement services to newcomers as they strive to create a rewarding new life in Canada.