Yellowknife to host dinner, fundraiser for Syrian refugees

Syrian refugees at the Turkish Syrian border. Photo: Thomas Koch.
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A dinner and fundraiser will be held in Yellowknife next week to assist Syrian refugees.

The $15 event is being hosted by a group called Yellowknifers Supporting Syrian Refugees, which came together in September.

The dinner, which will be the group’s first formal event, will be held on Saturday, December 5 from 5:30pm at Sir John Franklin High School.

There, attendees will have a chance to take part in a silent auction and donate to the Canadian Red Cross, with all proceeds being matched by the federal government.

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The evening will also feature a presentation from journalist Cody Punter, who covered the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe this fall. Mayor Mark Heyck, meanwhile, will emcee the event.

“Yellowknifers care,” said Bob Horton, member of Yellowknifers Supporting Syrian Refugees. “They are not prone to not supporting events that are of concern. They tend to be very generous people.”

“This is a great opportunity for us to reach out and support the Syrian refugees and especially when every dollar that gets donated gets doubled by the federal government.”

Read: Want To Sponsor A Refugee? Sessions Start In Yellowknife

Horton says the group was struck in September after the City of Yellowknife held a public forum on the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis. Additional forums were held for those interested in sponsorship.

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The collective is varied in its membership, consisting of government workers, municipal employees, private businesses and even stay-at-home parents.

But Horton says the group isn’t solely focused on providing financial support. It also provides assistance for those interested in sponsorship opportunities.

“We’re getting people coming up to us saying, ‘we have all the funding available, now how do I sponsor a family?’

“So we’re also providing that conduit of information and communicating between various groups to try and help facilitate as much as possible.

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“We know we can’t do it all and we’re not trying to. We’re just trying to be facilitators and help out where we can.

“Yellowknife can provide a safe, friendly and welcoming atmosphere. If it works out for families to come here, I would be very confident that they’d do very well.”

In late September, the territorial government pledged $25,000 to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

At the time, Premier Bob McLeod said the NWT was talking to other provinces and territories about their settlement programs and about some of the opportunities available to the territory.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees, mainly Syrian, have arrived in European nations so far this year – with many more hoping to make new homes in North America.

Canada has committed to resettling 25,000 of them.

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