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St. Ambrose group still hopes to bring refugee families to Yarmouth

Father Henry Smolenaars and Tony Dorrian are members of the St. Ambrose refugee committee.
Father Henry Smolenaars and Tony Dorrian are members of the St. Ambrose refugee committee.

YARMOUTH -- While the wait continues for two Syrian refugee families looking to come to Yarmouth, the local group hoping to bring them here is still committed to the effort, says a spokesman for the group.

Tony Dorrian of the St. Ambrose refugee committee says the two families, who are in Jordan, are being vetted.

“Our government has to be very thorough with the vetting process, so it sometimes takes more time,” Dorrian said. “We’re hoping to have an answer in the next few weeks.”

The families consist of two brothers, their wives and four children all told (each couple has two). They initially had been expected to arrive around the end of 2015.

“They were supposed to be in the first wave of arrivals,” Dorrian said. “When the (Syrian refugee) crisis first began, there was a lot more resources put into vetting them and getting them here and then there was a big backlog.”

The St. Ambrose group had been paying rent on a house for the families to stay but let it go and put the furniture and supplies in storage.

If the committee does get the green light that the refugees are coming, Dorrian says the group might not have a great deal of time, but he says the work that was done when the committee was first preparing for their arrival should help.

“When we do get the nod, our group will quickly get together and we’ll sort of look at where we are,” Dorrian said. “We’ll be looking for a suitable home or duplex for them.”

In the latter part of the spring, the St. Ambrose group wrote a letter to West Nova MP Colin Fraser regarding its efforts to bring the two families here. While Fraser couldn’t give them a definitive answer or provide them with a great deal more information, he did give them a positive response.

“He was encouraging and thanked our group for our patience and ongoing commitment to the process,” Dorrian said.

Given how long it has been since the families were first expected to arrive, Dorrian says it would be great to see something positive happen before too much longer.

“It’ll be two years this Christmas, so we’re hoping we’ll have an answer soon,” he said.


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