On November 23, 2015, Chatham-Kent Municipal Council responded to the Canadian government's commitment to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees by approving a motion that reaffirmed Chatham-Kent as an open and inclusive community for people of all backgrounds.
Thanks to the active support and engagement of many community agencies and residents, the Municipality of Chatham-Kent submitted a successful Community Partnership Settlement Plan, including a video message, to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and in September, 2016, was recognized as an official "Welcoming Community".
The Municipality of Chatham-Kent continues to work with Provincial and Federal government partners, regional settlement service provider organizations, and many local community stakeholders through the Community Attraction and Promotion area and the Chatham-Kent Local Immigration Partnership (CK LIP) to ensure Chatham-Kent is ready to welcome newcomers, including Syrian refugees.
CK LIP's Chatham-Kent Welcome Network, an expanding network of businesses and organizations that commit to welcoming newcomers and helping them to access settlement services, is an example of this widespread local support.
"Chatham-Kent has always been a warm and welcoming community to live in. This recognition from the Federal government is a great testament to the character and vibrancy of our community," says Councillor Trevor Thompson.
Tracy Callaghan, Executive Director of local settlement service provider, Adult Language and Learning, and CK LIP Co-Chair adds, "The support shown by our community and by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for the work being done to welcome and help newcomers settle is incredible. We look forward to continuing this work and building partnerships to support future newcomer arrivals."
Under the #WelcomeRefugees response, Canada has resettled over 40,000 Syrian refugees (government assisted refugees and blended visa office-referred refugees) as of January, 2017.
Many community groups throughout Chatham-Kent have been actively involved in privately sponsoring refugees and helping new families settle into the community. More information on private sponsorship of refugees can be found here.
"We know many of the refugees arriving are of school age and the Lambton Kent District School Board is excited to welcome them into our schools. We recognize the mutual benefits of integrating diversity as an opportunity for growth and learning for all of our students. With strong community collaboration in Chatham-Kent, we confidently support the settlement of many students and their families," says Jim Costello, Director of Lambton Kent District School Board and member of the Chatham-Kent Community Leaders' Cabinet.
The Municipality of Chatham-Kent will continue to welcome new residents and to support community partners that work to ensure newcomers have access to supports that help them adjust to life in Chatham-Kent.