Syrian refugee crisis: Invitation to brainstorm with others in NS legal profession

My name is Alison Morgan and I’m an associate in private practice. Like many of you, I am deeply concerned about the Syrian refugee crisis and want to know what I can do to help. It seems that as advocates and protectors of human rights, we as lawyers especially should help in any way that we can to respond to a crisis of this magnitude.

In fact, law firms in other parts of Canada are responding already. See the following article:

I have spoken with some of you and conducted initial research to learn how those of us who don’t work in this field every day can even start to be involved in responding. There are options available to respond at various levels:

1. Lifeline Syria has accessible information on how to get involved. 

2. The Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) is hosting a series of public information sessions on refugee sponsorship, and has an information package available on its website.

3. Canadian Immigration and Citizenship offers details on its website on how to sponsor a refugee, with several different options:

  • Contact Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH’s) for information on ways to assist. SAH’s are organizations that have signed sponsorship agreements with the Government of Canada. In Nova Scotia, the current Sponsorship Agreement Holders are:

- the Anglican Diocese of Nova Scotia & Prince Edward Island;
- the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia; and
- the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Halifax.

  • Groups of Five (G5s): These are five or more Canadian citizens/permanent residents who have arranged to sponsor a refugee living abroad to come to Canada. The commitment is to give emotional and financial support to a refugee or family for the full sponsorship period, which is typically one year. There are eligibility requirements, including having a viable/approved plan. Groups can fundraise to meet the financial commitment. Although it appears to be a slow and bureaucratic process, this is one way our current Canadian government is counting on bringing refugees here: private support. The result can be directly lifesaving.
  • Community organizations: If you sit on a Board (profit/non-profit) and wish to be involved in that capacity, community organizations can also sponsor refugees.

4. Volunteer with or donate to groups working on the forefront – UNICEF, UNHCR, ICRC

5. Write mayors/Premier/political candidates. Vote on October 19 for a government that will respond to this humanitarian crisis effectively.

I know many among us are already responding or becoming informed, but I want to extend an open invitation to meet and talk about how we as lawyers in Nova Scotia can join forces to respond. If you are interested in attending such a brainstorm or discussion session, please drop me a line at amorgan@pattersonlaw.ca or 902 896 6194 and let me know.

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