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Rings hollow

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Canada is being applauded on the world stage for accepting almost 31,000 Syrian refugees since the end of last year.

And in fact, Immigration minister John McCallum, attending a conference on refugees at the United Nations in New York City, said more than a dozen countries around the world are looking to Canada’s refugee program as a model to emulate.

High praise, indeed.

It hasn’t been all smooth sailing, though. Earlier this summer, for instance, some groups were asked to change families to alleviate the backlog because the ones they were sponsoring hadn’t been approved yet while others already were cleared and ready to come to Canada.

Here at home, meanwhile, one cannot blame district residents for thinking all the brave words and accolades ring hollow. Locals rallied behind the “Families for Families” initiative last fall—surpassing the initial goal of $35,000 in raising more than $60,000 from mid-October to the Christmas Eve deadline to bring not one but two Iraqi refugee families to Fort Frances.

Yet almost 10 months later, the committee still is waiting for them to arrive.

It was hoped the families would have been here by summer so they could have become somewhat acclimatized well before winter set in. That clearly won’t be the case. There’s also no indication just when they will arrive even though committee chair Kathy Mueller said back in July that the first family had completed their medicals and interviews, and were just waiting for their Canadian visas.

The delay also will start to cost the committee, which has to begin paying for the accommodations it has arranged for the first family even as it sits empty, not to mention ongoing storage costs for the furniture, appliances, and other items already earmarked for them.

District residents have showed their compassion and generosity to welcome two families desperate to flee war and persecution.

It’s high time they are able to enjoy the safety and comfort of their new homes as quickly as possible.

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