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"I urge you to celebrate the extraordinary courage
and contributions of refugees past and present."
Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General

In This Issue
AURA Quarterly Newsletter
Spring 2015 

Welcome to AURA's 2015 Spring newsletter. All of us at AURA thank you for your continued support of our mission of assisting some of the most needy refugees in the world. It is because of people like you that we are able to run life changing programs that allow for the sponsorship and resettlement of refugees.

Around AURA
AURA on The Agenda
On Jan. 12, our Sponsorship Director, Alexandra Kotyk, was interviewed on the The Agenda about the expanded role of private sponsors in making good on Canada's refugee policy.  This interview comes on the heels of the Conservative government announcing that Canada will settle 10-thousand Syrian refugees over the next three years.

Watch the entire interview here.

AURA Board members Kirk Merrett and Irmi Hutfless with Archbishop Colin Johnson
Special Celebration for Refugee Sponsors
On Feb. 1, Archbishop Johnson hosted a reception and a special celebration of the Eucharist to thank parishes who have sponsored refugees during his episcopacy. 
It was wonderful seeing so many Anglican refugee sponsors at the special celebration of the Eucharist. Hearing some of the many refugee sponsorship stories, including Archbishop Johnson's own, was inspirational.
   St. Peter's Anglican Church, March 11
AURA in the Community
During the first quarter of 2015 AURA is very pleased to have been asked to speak at a variety of events and occasions, as Faithworks speakers, refugee education and sponsorship, as well as out reach.  We would like to thank the following for inviting us to come and speak with them about our refugee work: Trent-Durham Area Day, Runnymede United Church, Humbercrest United Church, St. Clement's Anglican Church, Fairlawn United Church, Ebenezer United Church, Bloordale United ChurchCollier United Church, Grace Church on the Hill, St. Peter's Anglican Church and All Saints' Anglican Church.


If you would like to request an AURA speaker for one of your events, please make the request using this form.

Back row from left: Tina, Sima, Biliana, Alexandra, Kendra. Front: Ian McBride.

Student Program
April marks the end of AURA's student program for the 2014-2015 cycle. All of our students have successfully completed hundreds of hours of volunteer work with AURA. We would like to thank:, Biliana Cidade, Kendra Wilson, Tina Carless and Sima Hosseinzadeh.  Everyone at AURA truly wishes them the best of luck moving forward, knowing they will all be very successful in their future endeavors.
Refugee News
As of early April there are 3,956,198 registered Syrian refugees. This figure includes 2.2 million Syrians registered by UNHCR in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon, 1.7 million Syrians registered by the Government of Turkey, as well as 24,055 Syrian refugees registered in North Africa.  With no political solution in sight and military confrontation continuing, the number of people affected by internal conflict in Syria is likely to continue to increase.
In March, the UN refugee agency has said that it is "extremely concerned" about the worsening humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine, particularly in the areas controlled by anti-government forces.

UNHCR spokesman William Spindler said the lack of access to benefits and services previously provided by the central authorities had drastically worsened the plight of the civilian population in these areas. "This has been further aggravated by restrictions to the movement of people and goods."  Read More


In January, the Canadian government has vowed to accept 13,000 more refugees from Syria and Iraq over the next three years.
Immigration Minister Chris Alexander, who announced the pledge Wednesday, said the measure is about "doing the right thing" for "Syrians and Iraqis who face the worst forms of violence in the world today."  Refugee sponsor groups said it will be a huge task to help 6,000, or 60 per cent of Syrian refugees, settle in Canada over 36 months. Read More

Constituent Group Spotlight
Islington United Church held one of their major refugee ministry fundraisers in early February. This marked the 9th time the Bridge Luncheon has happened and all in attendance were treated to a wonderful lunch, great company, and some serious bridge! The dedication, tireless effort and love shown at this event shows a part of why Islington United has been able to sponsor so many refugees to Canada over the last 35 years.
Peterborough Refugee Sponsor Committee co-chairs Murray MacAdam and Suzanne McMillan.
Peterborough Refugee Sponsor Committee co-chairs Murray MacAdam and Suzanne McMillan say support continues to grow for bringing a refugee family from Syria or Iraq to Peterborough. The group says that people have been generous in their support  so far, having already given about $15,000 toward a goal of $25,000 needed to help support the family financially while they get settled, learn English and look for work.

Read the feature story here.
Fairlawn Avenue United Church Fairlawn is planning to sponsor a refugee family from Syria, as part of their  100th anniversary celebration.
To find out how you can get involved please visit there Refugee Sponsorship Project page and for a fantastic fundraising idea visit their Syrian Dinner Parties page.



St. Matthew, First Avenue, plans to sponsor a refugee family in response to the many conditions that continues to displace millions of people.  St. Matthew has been raising money and awareness in the parish in the hopes of sponsoring a refugee family from Syria. Read More

Share Your Refugee Stories

If you would like your group's event promoted by AURA or you have a refugee story you would like to share, please tell us here.

Social Media Highlights
Syrian Civil War 4th Anniversary
 With no political solution in sight and military confrontation continuing, the number of people affected by internal conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic exceeds 10 million people.
"I was using a telephoto lens, and she thought it was a weapon."
The photojournalist who captured a striking image of a 4-year-old Syrian refugee holding her hands in the air to surrender has confirmed that the image was not staged, and that the expression of fear on the girl's face is all too real. Read more
International Women's Day 
Tens of millions of refugees are women: mothers, daughters, sisters, and grandmothers. All around the world, International Women's Day represents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality.

AURA "painted it purple" all week with facts, figures, quotes, and stories that highlighted women's issues. Read more
Affirmations for faith leaders

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Volunteer Corner
Volunteer Opportunity
AURA is looking for a dynamic individual wishing to make a key contribution to the ongoing survival of a small charitable organization that operates as a major player in refugee resettlement. 
To learn more about this exciting opportunity please see the posting on Charity Village.
Volunteering with AURA
AURA relies on the skills, time, and heart of our volunteers to support our mission
to help refugees.
Without the generous contributions by our volunteers, we would not be able to help as many refugees.

To learn more about volunteering at AURA, please click here.