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Feb 7, 2017 Victoria—The people of the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia have publicly joined their voices with the throngs of people around the world condemning the recent attack on a mosque in Quebec City. We also share the outrage in reaction to President Donald Trump’s executive order suspending refugee admissions and blocking citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the USA.

The Government of Canada continues to welcome refugees to Canada, and has been recognized as a leader in resettling Syrian refugees in the last 14 months. For 2017, the Government of Canada has set a target of bringing 25,000 refugees in need of resettlement to Canada: 7,500 Government Assisted Refugees (supported by the government for 12 months upon arrival), 1,500 Blended Visa Office Referred Refugees (supported jointly by the government and private sponsors for 12 months upon arrival) and 16,000 Privately Sponsored Refugees (supported by private sponsors for 12 months upon arrival). This is a substantial reduction from the 2016 target of 44,800 resettled refugees.

With the recent actions by the US government, there is unprecedented need for refugee resettlement and the ongoing commitment by Canada to continue to show leadership. We are therefore calling on the Canadian government to increase its 2017 targets for refugee resettlement, so that the resettlement of Government Assisted and Blended Visa Office Referred Refugees is at least equal to the 16,000 Privately Sponsored Refugees.

As a private sponsoring organization, the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia is currently sponsoring 268 people fleeing war and discrimination. As part of those efforts, we are partnering with the Islamic Centre of Nanaimo and Mosque Al-Iman in Victoria to sponsor and support Muslim refugees. We currently have over 500 volunteers supporting refugees across Vancouver Island and the surrounding Gulf Islands. In light of recent events, we are now looking for more volunteers, to meet the increasing requests for help. We recognize that we cannot fill the vacuum the US government has left, but we must do what we can.