Action Réfugiés Montréal’s History
For over 20 years Action Réfugiés Montréal has provided support to refugees seeking protection in Canada. Our vision of compassion and justice for refugees guides our work through our three programs
Action Réfugiés Montréal was born out of the refugee program managed by the Reverend Glynis Williams at Tyndale St-Georges Community Centre in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Seeing a growing need for refugee sponsorship, visits to detainees, and accompaniment of refugee claimants, Glynis founded Action Réfugiés Montréal in 1994 with the support of our two founding churches, the Anglican Diocese of Montreal and the Presbyterian Church in Canada.
Sponsorship of refugees
Action Réfugiés Montréal has managed the private sponsorship of refugees on behalf of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal since 1994, as well as later on behalf of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, through agreements with Immigration Québec. In the early 1990s, many of the refugees sponsored by Action Réfugiés Montréal were from Afghanistan.
Over the years, we have sponsored over 900 refugees from countries including Afghanistan, Rwanda, Burundi, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Eritrea, and now Syria.
Helping detainees access justice
Since its creation, Action Réfugiés Montréal has offered support to people detained for immigration reasons through weekly visits to the Immigration Holding Centre. Since 2002, we have held a formal agreement with federal authorities providing Action Réfugiés Montréal with access inside the Holding Centre. After the reform of Canada’s refugee determination system at the end of 2012, we increased from one weekly visit to two in order to support detained claimants as early as possible.
Breaking isolation through friendship
In recognition of the social isolation faced by many newly arrived refugee women, Action Réfugiés Montréal created a “twinning” program, pairing refugee women with women volunteers to create bonds of friendship and exchange. Referrals often come from social workers, lawyers and through our sponsorship program. Since 2013, we have held regular group activities for participants.
Advocating for refugee rights
These three programs continue to form the core of our work. Drawing on our experience with refugees and asylum seekers, Action Réfugiés Montréal also engages in education and advocacy. We are active members of the Canadian Council for Refugees and the Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiés et immigrantes.
New challenges ahead
After 18 years as Executive Director of Action Réfugiés Montréal, Reverend Glynis Williams left Action Réfugiés Montréal in 2012 to take on a position with the Presbyterian Church in Canada. In 2013, Paul Clarke became the new Executive Director, after a long career in the banking world. Paul has focused on developing new partnerships with foundations, donors and communities.
ARM is a dynamic organization able to adapt to the changing needs of refugees
Since 2013, Action Réfugiés Montréal has significantly increased the number of sponsorship applications it submits to the government in response to the increasing demand from the Syrian community in Montréal.
New funds received since the fall of 2015 have allowed ARM to double its staff and increase the efforts of all of our programs. In particular we have increased our response to the Syrian refugee crisis, while continuing to assist refugees from other countries.