Calgary the first to receive support from the Welcome Fund for Syrian Refugees

CALGARY, February 11, 2016 – Community Foundations of Canada (CFC) is pleased to announce the first contribution from the Welcome Fund for Syrian Refugees (Welcome Fund) in Calgary today. The Welcome Fund was seeded by Manulife, and quickly augmented by CN’s historic $5 million donation, as well as by generous support from GM and community organizations.

As Canadians join together in welcoming refugees from Syria, the Welcome Fund is providing an important investment in their successful settlement in cities across Canada. Established to respond to an urgent gap in accessible and affordable housing, the Welcome Fund will invest in community-driven solutions that enable recently arrived families to transition into suitable permanent housing.

The inaugural recipient, Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, will receive $600,000 to provide direct support to refugee households. In the coming weeks, CFC will be announcing additional contributions alongside local community partners in other urban centres across Canada.

“Shifting refugees from temporary to more permanent homes is the first step in helping people and families to settle into their new lives in Canada,” said Andrew Chunilall, Chief Operating Officer at Community Foundations of Canada. “We thank Manulife, CN and other participating partners for their support.”

“Together with the other orders of government and non-profit organizations, we’ve made it almost to the end zone,” said Calgary Mayor, Naheed Nenshi. “This new Welcome Fund will help us get the last few inches to ensure that our new neighbours have the best possible start in their lives as Canadians.”

According to Fariborz Birjandian, CEO at Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, “The humanitarian initiative by the federal government to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees has truly become a Canadian initiative. The Welcome Fund provided by Canadian corporations will alleviate some of the housing challenges we are experiencing and it brings a new dimension to corporate involvement in the resettlement of vulnerable families, particularly those with larger family units”.

“Resettling Syrian refugees is a truly national initiative,” said the Honourable John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. “Partnerships like the one announced today will help ensure that our newcomers have access to housing that meets their needs and allow them to thrive in their new communities. I continue to encourage other Canadian businesses to join in making this important project a success.”

“We hope our $5 million donation to the Welcome Fund will encourage others to join in support of the refugees who are arriving in communities like Calgary,” said Sean Finn, Executive Vice President, Corporate Services and Chief Legal Officer of CN, and Past Chair, Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “The first priority is getting them housing so they can focus on getting their kids in school and obtaining language and skills training.”

About Community Foundations of Canada

Community Foundations of Canada is the national network for Canada’s 191 community foundations which help Canadians invest in building strong and resilient places to live, work, and play. Community foundations contribute time, leadership and financial support to initiatives that benefit community most, directing grants and other investments towards everything from shelter, education, and care for those in need, to the arts, environment and recreation. To learn more visit

To learn more about partnership opportunities related to the Welcome Fund, please contact JP Bervoets, Vice President, Partnerships and Public Engagement, at


Media Contacts:

Community Foundations of Canada
JP Bervoets
Vice President, Partnerships and Public Engagement
Tel: +1 (416) 319-8111
Twitter: @CommFdnsCanada

Patrick Waldron
Senior Manager, Media Relations
Tel: +1 (514) 399-8803

Brooke Tucker-Reid
Media Relations Consultant
Tel: +1 (647) 528-9601
Twitter: @Manulife or @ManulifeNews

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