Friday is a red letter day for Syrian refugee arrivals in Regina. About 100 refugees are landing at various times through the day. Another 35 or so will be here in the next week.
Since the first family arrived on Dec. 21, a total of 65 refugees have landed in the Queen City.
In total, 348 Syrian refugees are destined for the Queen City and the Regina Open Door Society (RODS) says by the end of next week, two thirds of them will already be here.
There are 18 families set to land in Regina on Friday, and all of them are government sponsored.
The Open Door Society says all but one of the families who have arrived at this point are already in permanent residences, and are now beginning the process of integration into life in their new home.
Darcy Dietrich is the executive director at RODS and he says the organization is very prepared to handle the influx of 348 refugees at once in addition to the annual average of 215 refugees who arrive from around the world.
“We’re very happy that we took the time we did ahead of time just to prepare and reach out to all of our community partners and community members in general to give them information and ask them to assist us to prepare,” Dietrich said. “So we’re feeling like we have the capacity and the support to be very successful and that goes right from our funders to the community in terms of the support that we’re getting.”
He says one of the best signs of that support is the quick availability of permanent housing for the refugee families. Dietrich says other provinces and cities are having problems finding enough housing to accommodate the refugees, but Saskatchewan is doing well.
“We have a list of over 300 potential permanent housing sites and we’re working with numerous landlords and hotels even in terms of providing the temporary accommodation,” Dietrich said.
Local businesses, landlords, community foundations and individuals have donated furniture, cash and gift cards to help the refugees settle in their homes. One company even donated a house for one year. In December volunteers also sorted through 31,000 lbs of donated clothing, furniture and household items.
RODS is asking people to take any additional donations directly to the Salvation Army where refugees will get vouchers to pick up whatever they might need for free.