Welcome Place and The Winnipeg Foundation respond to influx of refugees crossing the border

The Winnipeg Foundation


Welcome Place’s Executive Director Rita Chahal (right) speaking at the announcement with Jennifer Partridge, Strategic Projects Associate, The Winnipeg Foundation.

For Immediate Release: The influx of refugees crossing the border has put a strain on Welcome Place, the local centre which houses newcomers to Winnipeg. As of Sunday, Welcome Place’s housing complex is full, and it has no space to house the asylum seekers who have been crossing the border in record numbers. The Winnipeg Foundation is supporting Welcome Place with emergency grants totaling $33,000. These grants will be used for off-site accommodations to house refugees; support through Welcome Place’s In-Canada Protection Services program; staffing costs; as well as other necessities.


Welcome Place is one of only three agencies across Canada to provide In-Canada Protection Services for refugee claimants arriving in the country. These services include shelter, food, transportation and appropriate clothing; access to health and translation services; and paralegal services to fill out necessary documentation.

According to Welcome Place’s Executive Director Rita Chahal, historically Welcome Place has dealt with between 60 and 70 refugee claimants annually. Since April 2016, Welcome Place has seen almost 300 claimants, with 21 walking across the border at Emerson this past weekend.

“The refugee claimants entering Canada this past weekend included a six-month-old infant and two children under four,” Ms. Chahal says. “We are in need of additional resources to help the refugee claimants to navigate the social and legal systems as they prepare for their claim hearing. The Winnipeg Foundation has provided support for our In-Canada Protection Services program when there was very little other financial support available; The Foundation’s support was critical to ensuring the program continued and maintaining expertise of key staff. We are appreciative The Foundation is once again stepping forward. We also hope Winnipeggers will find it in their hearts to support these refugee claimants.”

“The Winnipeg Foundation approved grants totaling $200,000 over three years (2015-2017) in support of Welcome Place’s In-Canada Protection Services,” says Richard Frost, The Winnipeg Foundation’s CEO. “We are happy to provide $33,000 in additional grants during this extraordinary situation. For more than 95-years, The Winnipeg Foundation has been supporting Winnipeg’s changing needs and emerging opportunities. This support is only possible thanks to our generous donors.”

Of the total grant, $23,043 is coming from an anonymous Foundation donor who felt compelled and inspired to support the refugees, with the remaining amount drawn from The Foundation’s CEO Emergency Fund.

The Foundation established the Welcome to Winnipeg Fund in 2016 to support Syrian refugees and other newcomers to our community. To help with their immediate needs, gifts to this Fund will flow directly Welcome Place. If you would like to contribute, please make a gift to Welcome to Winnipeg Fund.

The Winnipeg Foundation, Canada’s first community foundation, was established in 1921. Built by people from all walks of life, The Foundation pools and invests gifts entrusted to it to generate grants that benefit a variety of local charitable needs For Good. Forever.


For more information, please contact:

Rita Chahal, Executive Director, Welcome Place
Email Rita Chahal

Stacy Cardigan Smith, Communications Specialist, The Winnipeg Foundation
C: 204-230-2939
Email Stacy Cardigan Smith

Jennifer Partridge, Strategic Projects Associate, The Winnipeg Foundation
204.944.9474 ext. 231
Email Jennifer Partridge