The ever-growing Operation Refugees Haida Gwaii is gaining momentum and gearing up for the next step of sponsoring Syrian refugees.
Carl Coffey, a political refugee himself, who migrated to Haida Gwaii in the ‘60s, feels sponsoring Syrian families to come to Haida Gwaii is, simply, the right thing to do.
“I came to Haida Gwaii as a political refugee from the U.S. during the Vietnam war. I came with the shirt on my back and was welcomed like a brother by the Haida and locals of Haida Gwaii,” Coffey said.
He was later adopted into the Eagle clan of Skedans by Percy Williams, who he credits for his being a part of the core working group for Operation Refugees Haida Gwaii.
“Howaa Percy,” Coffey said.
Coffey is just one of the 11 people who are a part of the core working group that have put time into this operation.
Coffey, who owns Crabapple Creek, has set up one of his storage units to house the many donations that are coming in. Beds, dishes and other household items have begun to fill the room. AMS has donated $1,500 in supplies and have also offered an employment opportunity for the refugees. AMS has taken it upon themselves to challenge other on-islands businesses to try and match their donation.
“We are the private sponsors in a three-way partnership with the U.N. Refugee Agency and the Government of Canada in providing income assistance from housing and support in helping them settle oh Haida Gwaii,” Coffey explained.
The goal of $50,000 has almost been reached with many private donations along with all the fundraising events that have proven very successful. This funding will cover housing and living expenses for a year for the families.
More than $18,000 has been collected in cash and the group estimates that they have close to $3,000 of in-kind donations.
The group has several more fundraising events planned for the upcoming weeks. There will be an Art sale that will be ongoing through March 1 to 15 at the Queen Charlotte Branch of Northern Savings Credit Union. There will be art from on and off-islands artists and all proceeds will go toward Operation Refugees.