We are delighted to announce that the BC Humanist Association has made a substantial donation of nearly $20,000 to Rainbow Refugee, an organization dedicated to supporting LGBTQI+ refugees forced from their home countries by discrimination, persecution and abuse. This donation is more than just a financial contribution: it represents the humanist commitment to creating a world where all individuals are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
Ian Bushfield, Executive Director, BC Humanist Association:
Rainbow Refugee's tireless efforts to offer a lifeline to those who have faced unimaginable hardships are truly inspiring. As Humanists, we believe in the inherent worth of every individual and the importance of upholding human rights for all. By supporting Rainbow Refugee, we are not only providing vital resources but also joining hands with an organization that is championing the rights of marginalized and vulnerable members of our global community.
The LGBTQI+ refugees assisted by Rainbow Refugee have often faced incredible challenges in their home countries. As they make the brave decision to seek refuge in a new land, they deserve our unwavering support as they embark on the path to rebuilding their lives and reclaiming their identities.
Stephanie Goodwin, Interim Co-Executive Director: Operations, Rainbow Refugee:
Every gift to Rainbow Refugee matters but a gift of almost $20,000 for our sponsorship program is humbling and impactful. LGBTQI+ refugees come to Canada because they are forced from their home countries by discrimination, persecution, and abuse. BC Humanist's gift allows us to bring people out of extremely dangerous situations and support them resettling and thriving in Canada. Thank you for prioritizing some of the most marginalized people in Canada, it makes a difference.
Our donation is a reflection of the compassionate and inclusive values that guide our Association. It's a testament to the idea that in a world characterized by diversity, our differences are to be celebrated and cherished, not used as a basis for exclusion. We hope that our contribution will not only provide immediate aid but also inspire others to lend their support to causes that promote justice, equality, and human dignity.
At the BC Humanist Association, we firmly believe that progress is made when we come together to uplift and empower those who have been marginalized. With organizations like Rainbow Refugee leading the way, we are reminded that change is possible – that a world where everyone can live authentically and without fear is within reach.
As we celebrate this donation to Rainbow Refugee, we extend our deepest gratitude to all our members and supporters who make it possible for us to stand in solidarity with those who need it most. Together, we can create a future where compassion knows no boundaries and where every individual's story is one of hope, resilience, and triumph.
Learn more about Rainbow Refugee.
This donation is the culmination of a long internal road. In late 2015, moved by stories of the those fleeing the Syrian civil war, a number of donors came forward pledging support to the BCHA to bring a family to Canada. Incredibly, we raised nearly $25,000 in a few short months.
That story of compassion and hope was unfortunately met with the realities of Canada's immigration bureaucracy. Our small committee of volunteers pursued the process of working toward a refugee sponsorship application. Things progressed slowly as it took us months to get together all of the required paperwork. After identifying a family to sponsor, we finally submitted our application in December 2016, nearly a year after our initial fundraising request.
After that, we heard little from the government until August 2018 - over eighteen months after we submitted our application - when we were told our application was denied. It turned out the couple we had applied to sponsor effectively invalidated their claim by returning to Syria briefly for personal medical reasons. This was heartbreaking news for our team and the individuals we'd hoped to sponsor.
Throughout that process, we had been working with MOSAIC, a local immigration and settlement service. We relied on their expertise to help navigate the complexities of Canada's refugee bureaucracy. After that disappointing news, MOSAIC was able to help us quickly move forward through a special blended program where we were able to support a couple who had fled Iran and was set to arrive in Vancouver a few months later in 2018. Through this program, our volunteers provided logistical support in the couple's settlement. Additionally, as the government was providing the majority of the funding in this case, we ultimately provided $5000 in financial support, rather than the typical $30,000 settlement costs that private refugee sponsors take on. In November 2019, those refugees celebrated their first anniversary since arriving in Canada.
This meant, however, that as of late 2019, the BCHA still had $19,524.14 of our funds set aside for refugee sponsorship. At the same time, our volunteers were nearly burnt out by the demands of supporting a newly arrived family. Then COVID-19 arrived in 2020 and our focus changed once again, all the while the money remained set apart in its own account.
After reviewing our options, the Board ultimately chose to direct the remaining funds to another well-established organization that could use the money to support more families fleeing persecution. This enabled us to fulfill our obligations to those original donors without taking on additional administrative work at a time when our internal capacity remains constrained. We identified Rainbow Refugee based on their established track record and their commitment to LGBTQI+ equality.