Winnipeg receives $500,000 from Welcome Fund for Syrian Refugees

The Winnipeg Foundation


Community Foundations of Canada
Community Foundations of Canada is the national network for community foundations, helping Canadians invest in making our communities better places.

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, March 17, 2016 – Community Foundations of Canada (CFC) is pleased to announce a $500,000 contribution from the Welcome Fund for Syrian Refugees (Welcome Fund) to The Winnipeg Foundation. The Foundation will be making disbursements to local settlement organizations, beginning with the two announced today: Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM), and Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council (MIIC), also known as Welcome Place. 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.

Established to respond to an urgent gap in accessible and affordable housing, the Welcome Fund provides an important investment in community-driven solutions to support the successful settlement of families recently arrived from Syria and help them transition into suitable permanent housing.

More than 800 refugees from Syria have arrived in Winnipeg. To assist settlement and other efforts on the ground, the Welcome Fund is contributing $150,000 to MIIC (Welcome Place) to allow them to provide direct rent support to families and to provide essential household items to the refugees as they transition out of Welcome Place into permanent housing, and $75,000 to IRCOM to provide complementary supports to families living in their transitional housing facilities. The Winnipeg Foundation is continuing its discussions with local organizations to determine the best use of the remaining funds; those details will be shared in the coming weeks, once confirmed.

“It’s heartwarming to see the private sector and Community Foundations of Canada come together to support the excellent work Welcome Place and the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba are doing,” said Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, John McCallum. “These funds will help Syrian refugees with housing and will build connections between newcomers and the community to ensure newcomers are able to integrate and thrive in Winnipeg.”

“For the 48 refugee families that will live at IRCOM’s newest transitional housing complex, the generous support of the Welcome Fund means ready access to multilingual, knowledgeable and culturally competent staff. It means being able to walk down the hall from their new apartment, in an entirely new country, and receive meaningful wrap-around settlement supports and referrals from a familiar face in their first language; settlement supports and referrals that greatly improve their access to health care, daycare, counselling, parenting programs, government benefits and much, much more,” said Erin Anderson, Director of Programming for IRCOM.

“We are extremely pleased to receive support from Community Foundations of Canada to formally launch our BED IN A BAG program,” said Rita Chahal, Executive Director, MIIC. “This program meets such a basic, yet profound need for people to feel secure, and gives them a sense of belonging when they have had to leave everything behind to start a new life in a new country. It is our hope that the love and welcome of Canadians is wrapped in the simplicity of a warm comforter.”

“I’m proud of our community for working hard to ensure Syrian refugees feel welcome upon arrival,” said Winnipeg Mayor, Brian Bowman. “Citizens, businesses and community organizations have stepped up to assist and the generous funding from the Welcome Fund will be a great complement to the tremendous work already underway.”

“The Winnipeg Foundation is very pleased to play a local leadership role in this extremely important pan-Canadian initiative as we continue building community partnerships to help welcome and accommodate Syrian refugees,” said Richard Frost, CEO of The Winnipeg Foundation. “Our vision is ‘a Winnipeg where community life flourishes for all’; we thank CN, Manulife and our local partners for lending their generous support and resources to bring this to reality.”

“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 CN, Manulife and other participating partners for their support, and invite other organizations to step forward to assist with our continued rollout of the Welcome Fund across the country.”

“CN has a great history of helping those arriving at our shores settle in places across our great country,” said Mike Cory, Senior Vice President, Western Region. “We hope our $5 million donation to the Welcome Fund will encourage other Canadian businesses to join in contributing to this urgent cause. As that financial aid reaches organizations across the country, including here in Winnipeg, CN is proud to support refugees with their transition to a better life, filled with the same dreams for their families and children that all Canadians share.”

"The arrival of 25,000 Syrian refugees in Canada is only one step among many for these new Canadians as they begin the next phase of their lives,” said Marianne Harrison, President and Chief Executive Officer, Manulife Canada. "The Welcome Fund was established to provide housing and job preparedness, which would not happen without the leadership of these great local Winnipeg organizations."

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


The Winnipeg Foundation's Backgrounder: Recent grants to support newcomers [PDF]


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