It looks like at least three Tibetan families will make their way to the Coast through the Tibetan Resettlement Project, and local organizer Janet Cotgrave hopes more people will learn what's involved and consider taking part.
The Canadian government is facilitating the immigration of up to 1,000 Tibetans living in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, India by 2016.
The move comes after a plea from the Dalai Lama in 2007 to the government. He asked Canada to accept Tibetan refugees who were struggling to survive as displaced people in India.
Following his request, the Canada Tibet Committee pressed the government, which agreed in 2011 to welcome up to 1,000 Tibetan refugees by 2016.
Project Tibet Society was tasked with overseeing the project under the umbrella of the Canada Tibet Committee.
As of March 17 last year, Tibetans who wished to immigrate to Canada were asked to apply. Out of approximately 8,000 eligible Tibetans, about 7,000 applied.
The society will choose who can come during the next four years using a lottery system. Any person or family unit chosen must have secure sponsorship from at least five Canadians.
Those Canadians are responsible for the Tibetan family for one year. They must be able to financially support them while helping them find employment and be able to house them until the year is up or the Tibetans can house themselves. The group of five or more Canadians must also ensure the Tibetans are fed, clothed and taken care of while integrating the new families into the communities they are living in.
Cotgrave already has three groups of five ready to take Tibetan families on the Coast, and she's looking for more to sign up.
"I hope to perhaps have two more groups within the next six to eight months," Cotgrave said, noting there is a lot required and much information to be disseminated before a group can legitimately make a commitment.
The groups she has so far are made up of a mix of family members, friends and churchgoers who saw the need and signed on.
Cotgrave is a Buddhist practitioner who has a deep love for the people of Tibet.
"They are absolutely beautiful people. They are happy, kind and compassionate, and when the opportunity came it just seemed like the project was too good to pass up," she said.
Last February Cotgrave attended a meeting about the resettlement project in Vancouver and when she came back she asked around her circle of friends if anyone was interested in sponsoring a family.
"It turned out there was quite a lot of interest," she said.
In an effort to let more people know about the project and how they can get involved, Cotgrave is planning an informational Tibetan festival and fundraiser for Nov. 11 from noon to 3 p.m. in the Roberts Creek cohousing common hall at 1311 Emery Rd.
There Coasters can get more information about the resettlement project and sign up to help if they wish.
Find out more at www.tibet.ca/en/projecttibetsociety. Connect with the local project on-line at www.facebook.com, search Tibetan Resettlement Project Sunshine Coast.
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