The Refugee Ministry

29

Refugees sponsored to-date

4

Settlements attempted each year

2400

Participants in peer support programs

A world in crisis

The world is facing the worst refugee crisis in history. MCC Toronto’s Refugee Ministry provides hope for LGBTQ2S+ refugees in Canada who have experienced persecution, violence, or risk to their lives in their home countries.

We have sponsored 29 refugees from Middle Eastern and African countries where it is dangerous to be LGBTQ2S+, including some where the penalty is death. As well, over 2400 refugee claimants have participated in our peer support programs. We advocate with our allies for improvements to the complex refugee system. 

Our work saves lives.

MCC Toronto covers the overhead costs of the Refugee Ministry. Private individuals, corporate and foundation donors from our congregation and the community donate funds to support the direct refugee sponsorship and program costs. Please support our work!

It's been one year since I arrived in Canada. Every day I am feeling a little better and less shocked. I never imagined myself starting a new life in another country, but Toronto has been a great place to start over. Things I dreamed could someday happen in my country are real here. Now, I don't see myself as a gay person in the middle of a battleground. Instead, I see myself as a resident of a country that I can emotionally connect with and call home.

Sponsored refugee at MCC Toronto

Sponsorship

Sponsorship

Sponsorship includes financial support for the first year in Canada plus start-up costs for items such as clothing and furniture. Sometimes the federal government provides financial support, sometimes we split the costs with the government, and sometimes we pay all the costs privately.

We provide ‘wrap-around’ supports needed to help a refugee build a new life in Canada.

We help refugees find housing, access language training, healthcare, counselling, education, employment and other services. We assist with required paperwork and we provide orientation to banking, transportation, and city resources. We also provide emotional, social and spiritual support if desired.

A volunteer settlement team, supported by Ministry staff, will work with a sponsored refugee for a minimum of 12 months.

Apply

Are you living outside your country of origin, identify as LGBTQ2S+ and are fleeing sexual or gender based persecution?
Need help?

When I was 18 and my boyfriend was 20, Iranian officials discovered I was gay. They gave me 3 choices – they could kill me and I would be ‘fixed’ when I went to Paradise; I could undergo therapy to 'become' heterosexual; or, because I had completed my mandatory military service, they could give me a passport and I could leave the country. I knew others who chose the ‘therapy’ – they later killed themselves. I chose to leave. My boyfriend didn’t have a passport so he paid someone to lead him over the border. That was a hard night for me. They sweep border areas with searchlights and if they spot you, they shoot you. But he made it. We spent 2 years in Turkey waiting to be sponsored to Canada, because we knew here we would be free and our relationship respected. MCC Toronto sponsored us both. They met us at the airport and helped us find permanent housing. They helped us get into ESL classes, get our health cards and other documents. They introduced us to Toronto and gave us emotional and practical support. Now we’re both working, we love Toronto and love our new lives together.

Sponsored refugee at MCC Toronto

Peer Support

Peer Support

We run a monthly peer support group meeting attended by 120 to 140 refugees and refugee claimants waiting for their Refugee Board hearings. Meetings have speakers and discussion to help people learn about the community and available services, deal with stress while waiting for their hearing or settling as a refugee, or get oriented to Toronto. It also gives people an opportunity to meet other LGBTQ2S+ refugees or claimants.

Over 2,400 refugees and claimants have participated in peer support activities provided by our volunteers and staff. We are working to provide more peer support opportunities. If a refugee or claimant gets involved in a minimum of four activities at MCC Toronto, one of our volunteers will write them a letter of support for their Immigration & Refugee Board hearing.  We do not provide counselling or in-depth one-on-one support to avoid duplicating services that are available through other organizations.

Meetings

Refugee peer support meetings happen on the fourth Sunday of every month. Orientation meetings are on Mondays and we hold an Info Session every Wednesday.
Make friends

Thank God you’re doing this work and saving lives. Thank you for asking me to help support it.

MCC Toronto Refugee Fund monthly donor

Our Volunteers

Our Volunteers

The Refugee Strategy and Fundraising Advisory Committee is a group of experienced volunteers who develop program strategy to recommend to the MCC Toronto Board of Directors, oversee implementation of approved strategy, and raise funds for the Refugee Ministry.

We always need volunteers! 

If you would like to volunteer to work directly with LGBTQ2S+ refugees by helping them get settled or facilitating peer support activities, it’s important for you to  make a one-year commitment to provide consistency for program participants. Other volunteer tasks have more flexible time commitments.

Sponsorship Settlement Team volunteers help to integrate LGBTQ2S+ refugees as they build new lives in Canada. Volunteers help newcomers as they learn to navigate the city and get established. Each sponsored refugee is matched with a team of 7 to 10 volunteers who support them for at least a year as they become settled in Toronto.

Peer Support Team volunteers help with monthly peer support meetings with refugees and refugee claimants. They can help out by planning speakers and information about: community services; preparing for Refugee Board hearings; orientation to Toronto;  stress management; inclusive spirituality. They can help at refugee social events and peer support activities. Some volunteers help by meeting with a refugee claimant and writing a Refugee Board Hearing support letter that speaks to the claimant’s efforts to connect with a community in Toronto.

We’re saving lives. We want to share our freedom to love who you want without fear. We’re privileged and we need to share that. We have a responsibility to leave a legacy, as we did with same-sex marriage ... a global impact.

Volunteers working on the Refugee Oversight, Strategy and Fundraising Committee

Our Donors

Our Donors

If you would like to share the freedom we have in Canada with LGBTQ2S+ people who are in danger in other countries, and help them become settled refugees in Canada, please consider providing financial support for our work. You can be a monthly donor for $10 or more a month, or make a one-time donation to the Refugee Fund. Monthly donations are set up as automatic withdrawals from your credit card or bank account. This reduces our administrative costs and helps us plan ahead.

Cheques can be mailed to:

ATTN Kevin Coutu
MCC Toronto
115 Simpson Avenue
Toronto ON M4K 1A1

Please note on your cheque that it is for the Refugee Fund.

All donations are tax deductible. MCC Toronto is a registered charity with CRA.

Online Donations

We accept secure credit card donations online.
Thank you for your support.

Click the button below to submit your donation using our secure payments gateway.
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Our Allies

To stay up-to-date on issues and contribute to a collective voice on changes needed, MCC Toronto is a member of the Canadian Council for Refugees. From our experience with refugees trying to navigate the complex refugee system, we speak out about issues and changes needed to the system.

We work with other refugee service-providers in Toronto to avoid duplication and promote good relationships. 

We have a formal partnership with the Rainbow Railroad to support their efforts to help  LGBTIQ+ refugees in danger globally to move to countries of safety, and we provide oversight to their sponsorship of several LGBTIQ+ refugees to Canada through MCC Toronto.

We connect our refugees and claimants with community groups which provide services to LGBTQ2S+ refugees. We are part of the LGBTQ+ Settlement Network of Toronto, which includes the following: Women’s Health in Women’s Hands Community Health CentreAccess AllianceBlack CAP, SkylarkEgale Youth OUTreachPlanned Parenthood TorontoSupporting Our Youth (SOY) at Sherbourne Health Centre, Access AllianceFCJ Refugee Centre, reachOUTOCASI Positive Spaces Initiative, and CultureLink’s Sankofa.

They don’t sponsor refugees, and we don’t duplicate the counselling, education and other services they offer.

We work to educate our congregation and the public about the particular challenges faced by LGBTIQ+ refugees around the world and here in Canada.