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Community Update: Operation Ezra

May 15, 2017

Dear Community Members,

We would like to take this opportunity to provide you with an up-to-date briefing on “Operation Ezra"

 

  • Grassroots project launched in March 2015 with two original objectives:
    • Increase awareness of the plight of the Yazidi people in the Middle East
    • Raise $ 35,000 to allow for the sponsorship of one Yazidi family to Winnipeg
  • By summer 2015, the small grassroots project had become a Jewish community wide program under the leadership of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, Jewish Child and Family Service and Congregation Shaarey Zedek. Over the months that followed, the Operation Ezra program grew to become a coalition of 24 different multi faith organizations across the City of Winnipeg.
  • By March 2017, just two years after its launch, the Operation Ezra Coalition raised close to $500,000 allowing for the private sponsorships of 10 families or 55 people altogether. To-date, 7 families have arrived in Winnipeg or a total of 41 people, with 3 more families or 14 people still in process and expected to arrive before the end of 2017.
  • The families sponsored by Operation Ezra are typically young families with many young children. 
  • The selection criteria used by the Operation Ezra working committee includes factors such as size of family and age of family members, proper UNHCR registration and ID documentation, ease of integration and potential for employment in Winnipeg, etc. The selection of a family is a very difficult process as Operation Ezra now has a data base of well over 3,000 families wanting to immigrate to Canada. 
  • So far, all of the new comers have integrated very well in Winnipeg since their arrival. Children are enrolled in schools and parents in English language programs offered by the Province.
  • Operation Ezra is able to provide many settlement services through Jewish Child and Family Service, with the invaluable support of over 50 dedicated volunteers who have joined the Operation Ezra team. These volunteers have provided many services, including the following:
    • Furnishing and setting up homes for each of the families with donated goods from many generous private and corporate donors
    • Welcoming the new families to Winnipeg and assisting with the paperwork required to start new lives in the city (MB health, banking, schooling, English programs, etc...)
    • Assisting with public transportation, finding Doctors, Dentists and Optometrists and accompanying them to all of their appointments
    • Helping new comers with English lessons through a newly launched EAL program that is now offered weekly at Temple Shalom Synagogue
    • Assisting those seeking employment to find meaningful work, with 7 new comers currently working full or part time, and 4 more people beginning their new jobs next month 
  • Operation Ezra is still the only coalition of its kind in North America. Our efforts and successes to date have allowed us to lobby both the Government and opposition parties heavily over the last several months. 
  • Our efforts eventually culminated in the unanimous passing of a motion in Ottawa last October calling for the Canadian Government to take action and save Yazidi refugees from genocide. Last February, the Canadian Government announced a program that included the sponsorship of 1200 Yazidi refugees to Canada by the end of 2017.
  • In addition to continuing to support the privately sponsored families, Operation Ezra volunteers will also provide settlement support services to many of the Government sponsored Yazidi refugees wherever possible.

?

Elaine Goldstine

Chief Executive Officer

   
 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


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