Privately sponsored refugees have the right to make their own choices, after receiving the best information possible. It is NOT the group’s responsibility to choose for them, but rather to help them make informed decisions and understand the impact those decisions will have on their lives.
1. You may not share all the same values with those you sponsor.
2. A difference in values cannot impact the support you provide.
3. You may not always agree with the decisions newcomers make.
• You show newcomers where to buy cheap healthy food, but they shop at a more expensive store instead.
• You do not drink alcohol or smoke, but they do either one or both.
• Newcomers make a choice about their children’s education that you would not make for your own children.
• Newcomers hold strong religious beliefs that are challenging for your group to accept.
Strive to minimize the power difference by:
• Asking questions and carefully listening to answers.
• Checking for understanding, avoiding yes/no questions.
• Explaining things clearly, repeating important points over several meetings.
• Ensuring newcomers understand they have the right to make their own decisions.
• Explaining that as sponsors you also have certain responsibilities.
• Whenever possible/appropriate, provide options from which the newcomers can choose.
It is important to recognize that in our society, differences such as skin colour, language ability, background, religion and culture are factors that determine power and status and inevitably shape someone’s experience and ability to participate.
In a refugee sponsorship context, these differences may be magnified because, regardless of your group’s makeup, you will have a wealth of expertise and financial power that differs from that of the newcomers.
Refugee sponsorship is about utilizing your power and privilege to help newcomers find a meaningful and safe Canadian life. At the same time, you must be constantly mindful of how you can provide support in a way that encourages self sufficiency and independence.