The Central Okanagan Refugee Committee (CORC), a consortium of United Churches (Winfield United, Rutland United and First United Kelowna) have worked together for almost two decades sponsoring refugees through the United Church of Canada as a Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH) with Canadian Immigration (CIC). The first refugee family from Syria, the Alshahouds, a family of 7, arrived on May 20th 2016. CORC has worked closely with The Islamic Centre and others in the community to fundraise the money needed to sponsor refugees. Since 2016 two more families from Syria have been sponsored. In late 2017 the group of churches again responded to a request through Rainbow Refugees, a Vancouver-based organization, to sponsor a gay man from Syria. Anas Qartoumeh arrived in Kelowna on Nov. 23, 2017 and was greeted by his sponsors waving rainbow flags and welcoming him to Canada.
Anas has been settling into a new life in Kelowna, and was honoured to be invited to be this year’s Grand Marshall in the Gay Pride Parade on August 18, 2018. Hear Anas’ interview with CBC radio about his life in Syria and how his sponsorship to Canada has changed his life.