“United Churches are so well placed to support refugee families.”

Primary Media
The sign outside Westminster United Church says "I was a stranger and you welcomed me. Refugees arrive February 11."
Credit: Provided by Donna Nelson
Published On: July 11, 2023

Helping a newcomer transition into Canada is a life-changing experience for everyone involved. From helping someone access health services, to sourcing Halloween costumes, to registering children for school and camp, every little bit helps.

Donna Nelson is no stranger to the hard and rewarding work that comes with welcoming someone to Canada. In the late 1980s, she had recently become a member of The United Church of Canada when her friend Barb asked her to help host two young Vietnamese men through the Regina Open Door Society. “That was all it took to get me hooked,” Donna shares.

At the time, she was a single parent to her four-year-old daughter Vicki. Together, they celebrated birthdays with their new friends, shared meals, visited tourist attractions, and enjoyed good friendship until the men moved to another province.

Since then, Donna has helped host refugees from countries like Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iraq, Iran, and Vietnam. Vicki and some newcomers learned Canadian geography together so the newcomers could pass the citizenship test. Donna even taught some newcomers to drive! At times life got busy, but Donna found herself called back to helping families.

Currently, Donna is actively involved with the refugee committee at Knox-Metropolitan United Church in Regina. She says, “The refugee ministry at Knox-Met is one of the most tangible and urgent ministries of welcome the congregation offers. We all benefit with the richness newcomers offer to our city and this community.

“United Churches are so well placed to support refugee families. We have both financial and community connections. It is a collaborative relationship—local congregations welcome families and provide the financial backing, and the national church helps with the bureaucracy. I am grateful to The United Church of Canada and Mission and Service for the support over the years.”

Your gifts to Mission and Service create opportunities for refugee families and church communities to work as partners. Thank you for your generosity.