New group forms to help refugee family

BARRY’S BAY – A new group has formed in Madawaska Valley to welcome and support a refugee family with children. 

Dr. Ray Dawes, spokesperson for the new group, Madawaska Valley Friends of New Canadians (MVFONC), said the group formed this spring.

“It was around the time of that terrible picture of the little boy on the beach. I think that made a lot of people realize just how desperate a lot of these people were,” he said. “These are people, they see an airplane go over and they wonder if that plane is getting ready to drop some bombs. They see people with guns shooting in the streets in front of their houses. For us, living in this idyllic country, where we don’t even think about such things.”

MVFONC has formed a committee of about 20 members and has begun to raise funds.

“Our goal is $25,000, so that we are confident that we have good sponsorship available for these people. …That’s the number we are looking at to do it properly,” Dawes said.

The MVFONC aims to assist a family with children settle and adapt to Canadian society and enable them to live independently, find employment and join the ranks of hardworking Canadian citizens.

Dawes said there are many ways to help. The family will need a home that is outfitted. Since there is no public transportation in the community, volunteers are needed to drive the family to appointments. For the family to adjust successfully their health, education and cultural needs will also need to be met.

Dawes said that Canada has accepted 27,000 refugees.

“There is some concern about how the system is now functioning with refugees coming into the country,” Dawes said. 

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