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Making the Links: Refugees, Climate Change, and Poverty

By Asha Kerr-Wilson and Bolu Coker

When we think of the Syrian refugee crisis, political unrest and terrorism immediately come to mind. Very rarely do we ever think of climate change and poverty as casual factors in this crisis, or in our current global refugee situation. It’s not an obvious connection many of us have made.  A closer look at these links is necessary to ensure we can address the ever-evolving conflict situations of our times.

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Sponsors are waiting too long to welcome refugees

Christian Week

When Janet’s Ottawa-based sponsoring group decided to sponsor a Syrian family in 2015, they expected a swift resettlement process.

“At the time, there was a lot of momentum and enthusiasm”, she said, as many of the group’s members were keen on supporting Syrian refugees at the cusp of the crisis in 2015.

Now, however, it seems this momentum may have waned a bit.

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Immigration minister vows faster processing times for refugees

The Catholic Register

The problem of long processing times for refugees to Canada will be fixed by 2019, promises Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen.

A survey by Christian think tank Citizens For Public Justice reveals that 97 per cent of the agencies who bring privately-sponsored refugees to Canada are concerned about processing times.

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Because It’s 2017...It’s Time to End Poverty in Canada

From the Catalyst, Spring 2017

At CPJ, we’ve decided that the best way to participate in Canada’s 150th anniversary is to renew our resolve to work for public justice and the flourishing of God’s shalom in the land. 2017 is an historic moment, worthy of our every effort to show what love looks like in public.

There is perhaps no better way to do this, than by ensuring our federal leaders complete the development and implementation of a robust poverty reduction plan.

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6 Ways Christians Are Marking Earth Day 2017

The Huffington Post

There has often been some distance between celebrations of faith and environmental action -- between Easter and Earth Day. This year, however, these two springtime celebrations lined up pretty closely. Not only are they just days apart but their messages of sacrifice and renewal have also come together for people of faith around the world.

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An Ice Road to Reconciliation

From the Catalyst, Spring 2017

Climate change affects the lives, lands, and cultural heritage of Indigenous peoples more directly and dramatically than most Canadians. But many communities in the more isolated and northern regions go unseen and unheard. Climate justice is a part of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

One road to get us there may well be made of ice and serve a small Ojibway Nation in northwestern Ontario.

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Giving it up for the Earth! from Coast to Coast to Coast

Over the last six weeks, throughout the season of Lent, Christians across Canada have spoken up for climate justice. A faith-in-action campaign, Give it up for the Earth! supported Canadian Christians in raising awareness about climate change in their communities, and taking personal action as a demonstration of support for stronger and more urgent climate action from the federal government. 

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Canada's Flawed Refugee System Gives New Arrivals A Half Welcome

The Huffington Post

Canadians can be proud that our country facilitated the entry of so many Syrian refugees in 2015-2016. Yet, there is no reason to assume that the system is perfect or perfectly fair. An engaged society and culture can continue to improve our capacity to assist vulnerable asylum-seekers. 

Given the massive human need we are invited to confront, this CPJ study recommends useful avenues for communities seeking to better collaborate in the government's responsibilities to receive and successfully settle asylum-seekers in Canada.

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A Made in Canada Housing Strategy

By Jeff Morrison on March 23, 2017

From the Catalyst, Spring 2017

The link between access to safe, affordable, sustainable housing and poverty alleviation is clear.

Without access to decent housing, it is extremely difficult to pursue education, maintain employment, or raise a family. Safe, affordable housing allows individuals and families to work, which helps to ensure that they can break the bonds of poverty.

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Refugees Are a Blessing to Canada

By Martha Wiebe on March 23, 2017

From the Catalyst, Spring 2017

For nearly 40 years, Ottawa Mennonite Church has sponsored refugees from around the world. The experience has been overwhelmingly positive. They have not only contributed to the life of our congregation but also to our community and our country.

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