C-K responds to refugee situation

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Chatham Kent is stepping forward to determine how it can best help deal with the number of refugee and asylum claimants inundating some of Ontario’s largest urban centres.

Following a conference call recently by the Large Urban Mayors Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO), Toronto Mayor John Tory issued a statement asking mayors to adopt a regional strategy and find ways to help relocate some of the more than 3,300 persons now in that city’s shelter program.

“As Canada’s first welcoming community for Syrian refugees, we have shown the capability and the willingness to provide humanitarian aid and a chance to help newcomers begin a new life,” said Mayor Randy Hope in a media release.

Mayor Hope said communities across Ontario are considering how they can help in regard to the current need.

Chatham-Kent CAO Don Shropshire said the municipality is in contact with officials in Toronto to assess which individuals may be interested in coming to this area.

“It’s not simply a question of saying we will take X number of people,” he said. “Ideally, we want to bring people here who can obtain employment, relocate and make this their new home.”

He said no “target number” for newcomers has been established.

Shropshire said many of the Syrian refugees who arrived here two years ago have found jobs, set down roots and are contributing to the community.

Hope said Chatham-Kent owes a debt of gratitude to the various sponsors who helped smooth the transition for newcomers.

“We can stand proudly and say that our community has always welcomed newcomers whether it be at the turn of the 20th century, after World War II or more recently,” he said. “With the exception of the Indigenous peoples, we are all newcomers.”

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