ICMIF member The Co-operators helps welcome Syrian refugees to Canada

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Canadian ICMIF member The Co-operators announced this week that it has committed CAD 250,000 in funding, and is encouraging its employees to volunteer, as part of the nation-wide effort to welcome Syrian refugees to Canada. A special one-time grant programme has been created through The Co-operators Foundation's Community Economic Development Fund to support organizations' initiatives aimed at preparing refugees for employability in Canada.

The Canadian government has announced that 25,000 Syrian refugees will settle in Canada, the first of whom recently arrived after a long and difficult journey. Efforts are underway to support the individuals and families arriving in Canada by arranging to meet immediate needs including transitional housing, job training and skills development.

"People and organizations throughout the country are lending a helping hand to support the resettlement of Syrian refugees as they begin a new chapter in their lives here in Canada," said Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of The Co-operators (pictured left with Shaun Tarbuck, CEO, ICMIF). "This is a national project of historic proportions that demands the support of not only government, but community organizations, private enterprises and individual Canadians."

Through the Community Economic Development Fund, which was created in 1995, The Co-operators has provided more than CAD 5 million to organizations helping marginalized people and communities build the capacity for economic self-reliance.

The Co-operators is also encouraging employees to volunteer to help the many initiatives underway in Canadian communities to welcome the newcomers. Employees are eligible to use two paid days a year to volunteer, and staff-led Volunteers In Action groups across Canada connect them with local organizations.

Volunteers in Action is a group of passionate Co-operators employees who meet regularly to help out people in their communities. Started at the Calgary office in 2002, there are now active groups throughout many of The Co-operators’ member companies.

Each group is employee driven and strives to bring volunteer opportunities to the larger employee group in their area. Meeting on a regular basis, these groups have a profound impact on the success of many community programs and organizations. All Co-operators’ employees are free to attend meetings to learn more about how they can support their community through volunteerism, or to bring new ideas to the group.