News Story

Mormonism in Action Supports Families Fleeing Persecution

In advance of wise counsel given during the April 2016 general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Church members across Canada were already rallying to support the recent influx of refugees to their communities.

Here we report various acts of caring, sharing and building relationships with families — acts to help others begin a new life in a foreign country with a big heart.


Saint John, New Brunswick

Using a mobile phone app to assist with translation, Eleanor and Reg Hilchie of Saint John, along with Linda Gordon, bond with a young Syrian family eager to learn everything they can about their new homeland. Reg has even introduced them to Canada’s favourite pastime by treating the father and another Syrian friend to a hockey game.

Brampton, Ontario

During a service project organized by the Oshawa Ontario Stake of the Church, 16- to 18-year-old youth assembled over 300 welcome kits for Syrian children. The kits contained paper, books, pens, markers, stencils, origami and a handwritten letter of welcome.

Before assembling the kits, the youth watched a video about the challenges Syrian refugees face in their own war-torn country. The idea behind the project was to provide Syrian youth with basic artistic materials to help them heal through creativity and to feel peace in their new homes.

Portage la Prairie, Manitoba

The Church partnered with other churches and community groups in the Portage and Area Refugee Coalition to welcome refugee families to Portage la Prairie. The group raised approximately $50,000 and prepared for the arrival of two Syrian families of five.

Members and missionaries of the Church have contributed by collecting donated toys, doing minor home repairs, painting the interior of one of the refugee homes and maintaining the landscaping of each home.

(L–R: Elder Bradley Talbot, Elder Brody Moore and Dennis Wiens.

“It’s been wonderful to assist others and show love for those who’ve come from a very dark place,” said full-time missionary Elder Brody Moore. “The sense of community and the outpouring of concern demonstrated in the many acts of coalition has shown me that God’s love is felt by many,” added his companion, Elder Bradley Talbot.

Guelph, Ontario

In early 2016, a refugee support presentation given by Dr. Iman Arab, a prominent Muslim leader in the Water–Wellington area, has led to a steady contact amongst Michael Clifton (local Church director of public affairs), Stacy Cattran (local Relief Society president) and local interfaith connections to ensure necessary support for refugee families.

With the support of Kitchener Ontario Stake President David Thomas, Humanitarian Services and LDS Charities donated $21,000 to purchase school supplies, cribs, mattresses and twin beds for the 76 refugee families settling in this region of southwestern Ontario.

Halifax, Nova Scotia

In February, a group of 30 Mormon parents, children, university students and missionaries sorted donations at a Halifax centre to support refugee families. Much-needed household items, clothing, furniture, toiletries and school supplies were among the thousands of donations.

“It is the largest group from any organization to help out at any one time,” said one of the co-ordinators at the centre. “They are excellent workers. They put us two weeks ahead of our distribution efforts.”

Lethbridge, Alberta

Since January, the Church in Lethbridge has hosted a recreation program two afternoons a week, attracting up to 40 refugee children from ages 6 to 20. The gym is used for soccer and basketball, while another room is used for colouring, puzzles and crafts.

One Church family donated soccer balls to each refugee family. Another Church family purchased dolls for the girls.

The refugee children love to try out their English with the volunteers.One of the first phrases these children have learned and express often is “I love you.”

Gatineau, Quebec

Members and friends of the Church in Gatineau participated in a city-organized drive to collect goods for refugees. They filled a trailer full of toys, furniture and small appliances.

Knitting winter scarves for refugees arriving in the region was a labour of love provided by local Mormon young women. They had never before knit, so it took 12 to 15 hours to make one scarf. Sonia Bruyere, one of the young volunteers said, “It is more than a simple scarf that would have been made by a machine. In this scarf are all my thoughts and my love for the person who will receive it.”

Taken individually, these small acts of kindness may not seem like much. However, by touching even a few lives through unselfish service, the world is a better place and we are reminded that “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6).

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