A congregation’s Refugee Outreach Program reaches out to meet the needs of Spanish-speaking newcomers.
For Latin American Heritage Month (marked in October in Canada) The United Church of Canada is celebrating our connections to Latina/o/x communities of faith and justice initiatives.
The Refugee Outreach Program is one of the ways Toronto’s Bloor Street United Church members have been welcoming refugees and newcomers to their new Canadian community. This program is a “bubble-up” activity—it started, grew, and changed based on the resources and interests of the congregation and the resources and interests of Spanish-speaking newcomers.
We formally started in 2003, during a time when many Colombians were seeking refuge in Canada. A large number of individuals and families were crossing into Ontario at the U.S./Canada land border to seek asylum. Without contacts and sponsors, people were looking for ways to get advice and support as they navigated their refugee claims and started to settle in Toronto. Bloor Street United Church offered people a friendly face in a friendly place and a welcome to the monthly congregational lunches.
Our video tells you a bit about the program as it is now, in the words of the refugee outreach worker, some of the Spanish-speaking participants, and some members of the congregation. All the program activities are geared to supporting families as they work to gain a sense of connection and belonging in their new home.
— Alcris Limongi came to Canada from Venezuela in 1996 and has served The United Church of Canada in different roles as General Council staff, as a volunteer, and as a minister. She is part of the Anti-Racism Common Table and a facilitator of Racial Justice training.
The views contained within these blogs are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of The United Church of Canada.