Հայ Ընտանիքի

Օգնութեան Ծառայութիւն



We are glad to report about AFSS collaborating with the Mennonite Central Committee of British Columbia (SAH) to sponsor Syrian-Armenian refugees to arrive in Canada’s West Coast.

Jennifer Mpungu, Migration and Resettlement Program officer at Mennonite Central Committee of B.C. is the person that answered the call. We met each other in Winnipeg SAH conference. After hearing our stories of families in desperate need of sponsors, Jennifer quickly made the decision and advised me that she will take three families. This was the beginning of a great collaboration between AFSS and MCC British Columbia.

The refugee families were informed we found a sponsor hence gave them a gift of hope, positive outlook and a light towards a peaceful life. There were a lot of tears as we exchanged the information. We prepared all the information from the refugee families, mailed to Jennifer. A few months later, now we see the successful result of our collaboration.

The first family had a stopover in Toronto before going to BC. Members of the Refugee Sponsorship and Settlement Committee greeted the parents and their two sons.  There were a lot of hugs, tears and words of gratitude. The family was looking forward to starting their new lives. When they arrived in B.C,   the family was greeted by 20 people waiting for them. Some of the families had children the same age as the newcomer children and introduced them. They had a fully furnished home waiting for them.

This past year, the adults have been attending full time English classes so that they will be well equipped for the job market next year. They have also attended special classes for newcomers, learning about Canadian rights and laws for their protection.

As more families arrived and started the successful integration, Jennifer reached out to the AFSS advising that she found more sponsors!!! To date, we are happy to announce that 20 families have been sponsored by the Mennonite Central Committee of B.C. These families are now able to build their lives and plan their future. In other words they are stepping into a normal and peaceful life.

The families visited St. Vartan Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church in Vancouver. Rev. Archpriest Father Keghart Garabedian, Parish Priest of St. Vartan Church will be welcoming more families to St. Vartan Church.




Rita Odjaghian,
Chair, AFSS



July 15th was an important day for Armenian Family Support Services. AFSS was invited to meet with the Honourable John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, at a roundtable event entitled Canada’s Continuing Story of Immigration – The Next Chapter.  The purpose of the event was to exchange opinions about the long-term stance of Canadian Immigration.

Minister McCallum conducted these round-table conversations with various Sponsorship Agreement Holders, settlement agencies, employment agencies, university researchers, etc., all across Canada in order to gather various perspectives about the future direction of the IRCC. It was a great achievement for AFSS to take part in this conversation.

Since the first newcomers arrived on Canadian soil, a sense of possibility, innovation and discovery has been a defining part of our Canadian national identity. Although times and conditions may have changed, the 21st century newcomers to Canada have retained that innovative spirit, enriching the communities where they settle and helping to ensure the Canada of tomorrow remains as dynamic as the country of yesterday.

The Government of Canada is asking Canadians coast to coast to help write the next chapter of that story. Our Government is committed to an immigration policy that supports diversity and helps to grow the economy as it strengthens the fabric of our society.

Approximately 20 people attended from different agencies along with two MPs from Scarborough and 10 observers. Some of the discussion at the roundtable focused on whether we should look at Immigration levels as an annual target or more as a long-term plan. Another topic was the different categories of immigrants to Canada--do we encourage refugees, highly educated professionals, economic immigrants, etc.

There was a presentation from the Armenian Community Center. Many topics of common concern were discussed specifically around family reunification, integration, mental health, etc. During the round table discussions I contributed the following thoughts:

Integration is a pivotal factor, it is great to increase the levels of immigration as we are faced with an aging population; however, we need to integrate newcomers faster and better so that we can see higher returns on investment.

With regard to employment, I said that based on our stats from Syrian Armenian refugees a good 30% are jewelers. This occupation has limited prospects in light of today's Canadian marketplace.  Hence there is a need to retrain and reposition this segment.

With regard to mental health, I gave the example that at AFSS we send buses funded by private donations to pick up the newcomers and bring them to our bi-monthly support circles to talk about stress, mental health etc. The refugees tell us that they urgently need employment before anything else. So this goes back to the importance of providing funding to employment agencies that deliver results as opposed to just showing the number of clients that pass through their doors.

 At the end of the meeting, I introduced myself to Minister McCallum and thanked him for including us.

I asked him if he would give us the honour of coming to our Thanksgiving dinner for Armenian refugees to promote Canadian values. He said YES!!  This will be a huge milestone for Armenian Family Support Services to gain such exposure at IRCC. We at AFSS will be further motivated to launch a true Canadian ceremony of Thanksgiving for our Armenian Refugee families.

 




Rita Odjaghian,
Chair, AFSS

 

Newcomers’ Luncheon Organized by

Armenian Family Support Services

AFSS Press Office
Published June 23 2016


On Sunday, May 15, 2016, following Divine Liturgy at Holy Trinity Armenian Church, a luncheon and talent show was organized at the “Magaros Artinian” hall by the Armenian Family Support Services (AFSS) to welcome Syrian-Armenian newcomers. About 300 people attended this one-of-a-kind event and enjoyed the warm atmosphere with friends, great food and performances. Rev. Archpriest Father Zareh Zargarian, Parish Priest of Holy Trinity Armenian Church (HTAC), delivered his warm welcoming message to the Syrian-Armenian newcomers, and expressed his well wishes to them. He appreciated the organizers' efforts and devotion and praised the AFSS board members for their ongoing efforts. Many of the HTAC Parish Council members were present at this lovely gathering. Maida Icliates, Founder of AFSS, introduced Toronto City Hall Councillor, the Honourable Jim Karygiannis, who thanked the AFSS Board and volunteers for their many years of dedication and service to the Toronto Armenian community. 



Page

Minister of Immigration Refugee and Citizenship - Meeting


AFSS Press Office

Published July 25 2016



 

Newcomers’ Luncheon Organized by

Armenian Family Support Services

AFSS Press Office
Published June 23 2016


On Sunday, May 15, 2016, following Divine Liturgy at Holy Trinity Armenian Church, a luncheon and talent show was organized at the “Magaros Artinian” hall by the Armenian Family Support Services (AFSS) to welcome Syrian-Armenian newcomers. About 300 people attended this one-of-a-kind event and enjoyed the warm atmosphere with friends, great food and performances. Rev. Archpriest Father Zareh Zargarian, Parish Priest of Holy Trinity Armenian Church (HTAC), delivered his warm welcoming message to the Syrian-Armenian newcomers, and expressed his well wishes to them. He appreciated the organizers' efforts and devotion and praised the AFSS board members for their ongoing efforts. Many of the HTAC Parish Council members were present at this lovely gathering. Maida Icliates, Founder of AFSS, introduced Toronto City Hall Councillor, the Honourable Jim Karygiannis, who thanked the AFSS Board and volunteers for their many years of dedication and service to the Toronto Armenian community. 




 

 

 

 


 

 



 

Earlier in June, IKEA generously donated a limited number of carts full of household necessities to newcomer Syrian families. Armenian Family Support Services (AFSS) together with a select number of families were invited to their North York store for breakfast.  Over delicious scrambled eggs, sausages and coffee, newcomers were warmly welcomed by the store manager, Ms Janet McGowan, and staff in IKEA's bright cafeteria. 

In her welcoming message, Ms McGowan said, "We are very excited to be helping people by providing them with things families would need in a new home." The carts had been carefully filled with kitchen and other household goods such as dishes, towels, pots, pans and even a tool kit, among other useful items.
AFSS is grateful to IKEA for their thoughtful gifts. We are honoured that IKEA, a large international company, has recognized the valuable work AFSS is doing with Syrian newcomers to Canada. Collaboration between businesses like IKEA with AFSS bring the community together, making it stronger.  Stronger communities make Canada a better place to live, for everyone.  We all have something to gain by helping each other.

Rather than feeling that they are in a strange new land, IKEA's gifts helped make people feel like they have come home to Canada! Thank you IKEA!





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Copyright 2016. Armenian Family Support Services. All Rights Reserved.

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Thoughtful Gifts from IKEA


AFSS Press Office

Published July 28 2016



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AFSS Press Office

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10th Annual Children's Christmas Cheer


AFSS Press Office

Published December 1 2016


Please join AFSS in our 10th Annual Children's Christmas Cheer Campaign. With your generous donations we will assemble gift bags for low-income families and their children. See flyer below for more information.


Thanksgiving Luncheon


AFSS Press Office

Published October 26 2016


Sunday, October 9, 2016, was a memorable day for Armenian Family Support Services and more than 200 Syrian/Iraqi Armenian newcomers.The excitement in the air and the flashing cameras made it seem like a Film Festival with everyone in the Organizing Committee as well as our Board members performing flawlessly on the red carpet. It gave us a feeling of extreme satisfaction to know that we had record-breaking attendance by senior government officials including: John Tory, Toronto Mayor, Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Education, Zubair Patel, Senior Special Assistant, Office of the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Salma Zahid, MP for Scarborough Centre, John McKay, MP for Scarborough – Guildwood, Arnold Chan, MP for Scarborough- Agincourt, provided us with his greeting letter, Raymond Cho, MPP for Scarborough-Rouge River, provided a letter of greetings. AFSS’s first celebration of Thanksgiving with the newcomers also became a fascinating topic for national and international media including, CTVNews, City TV, CBC, Global, Hye Horizon and Television Nationale de Suisse, all came to cover this unique event.The Thanksgiving Luncheon was held at the Holy Trinity Armenian Church. Rita Odjaghian, Chair of AFSS was the Master of Ceremonies. She addressed the guests in English, French and Armenian and talked about the meaning of the Canadian Thanksgiving Holiday. This was a great opportunity for our newcomers to express their gratitude to our beautiful country of Canada which opened its arms and allowed them to leave their hardships behind and begin their new lives with dignity, peace and hope. His Worship Mayor John Tory greeted our newcomers in Arabic and called them “Superstars.” He shared his insightful message with the audience. Every one of the dignitaries then came up on stage to deliver their heartfelt message. Annie Demirjian, AFSS Board Member, talked about our strategy and the quality of our services. Then Houry Aznavourian, member of the HTAC Parish Council, read a letter of greetings from Reverend Archpriest Father Zareh Zargarian who was in Armenia. Next, Father Datev blessed the food and everyone enjoyed a great traditional turkey meal.

As a grand finale one of our newcomers, a Syrian Armenian singer Mher Minassian, sang a few songs and all of us danced in a show of happiness and positive thinking. The event ended with smiles, happiness and joy. As they made their way to the buses that AFSS had arranged for them, the newcomers were full of praise about the Canadian Thanksgiving Luncheon. It is important to note that this event as well as all AFSS programs and services are funded solely by private donations and the direction of a volunteer Board of Directors. In order to continue this mission and promote growth we need financial fuel. Donations can be made via: GoFundMe Via PayPal