Council allocates $1,000 for refugees

“A public awareness campaign is also important. We need strong support from the municipalities and cities in the area,” Weaver said.

Cowichan Intercultural Society spokesperson Lynn Weaver told North Cowichan council Jan. 20, “It looks like our communities will receive 10-12 refugee families.”

She was speaking to council because the Society hoped for some financial help to ensure that the newcomers felt welcome.

Efforts are already underway to bring the families here but there’s more, she said.

“A public awareness campaign is also important. We need strong support from the municipalities and cities in the area,” Weaver said.

She suggested print ads and billboards to help raise awareness about the facts, because some people still need educating about the refugee situation.

“The only urgency is we might not receive government-assisted refugees if we wait,” Weaver said.

Coun. Joyce Behnsen said she was not in favour of seeing municipal funds going towards billboards.

“They are not an effective use of funds. I want a more directed use of funds,” she said.

Weaver replied, “Core services are already in place. It’s public awareness that’s needed.”

Mayor Jon Lefebure was surprised she was mentioning it.

“I haven’t heard a single negative about us bringing in refugees. I wonder if there really is a need for a myth-busting campaign,” he said.

“Apparently there is apprehension out there,” Weaver said. “People who see newcomers as competition for jobs and services. It’s hard to quantify but we all benefit the more we can raise awareness about immigration in general.”

North Cowichan council voted at their Feb. 3 meeting to give the Society $1,000 to support their refugee work.

Cowichan Intercultural Society has a $7,000 fundraising goal.