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An Edmonton for All

As Edmonton prepares to welcome Syrian refugees to our city, the City of Edmonton is supporting our community groups as they prepare to welcome and help transition refugees coming to Edmonton.

The City's role is to support the coordination efforts of our community groups and we have created this online hub for Edmontonians to learn more about our city's newest residents and how to help.

How Can I Help?

Volunteer Opportunities

Catholic Social Services is recruiting volunteers and looking for assistance in identifying housing rental units for refugees once they arrive in Edmonton.
Sign up as a volunteer or to identify a rental accommodation online.

Volunteers are needed for:

  • Child minding, providing childcare so parents can attend appointments
  • English tutors, practicing English with refugees
  • Bus tours, assisting and orientation of public transit
  • Matches, connecting with a refugee or a family as a ‘friend’ in the community
  • And more

Islamic Family & Social Services Association (IFSSA) is helping families sponsor relatives, and refugees (both private and government sponsored) with settlement and integration into Edmonton. IFSSA is asking for donations to help support refugees through crisis, run welcoming events, and hire qualified staff. IFSSA has a drop off location for clothing and food. It is looking for volunteers and donations.

IFSSA is also hiring a number of positions to help assist with their efforts. To learn more, see IFSSA Jobs.

The Mennonite Centre for Newcomers (EMCN) - collecting volunteer information and financial and physical donations. All financial donations to EMCN for the Syrian refugees are going into an Emergency Fund to allow EMCN to respond efficiently and flexibly to the emerging needs of the refugees as they arrive.

For more information, please contact the Mennonite Centre for Newcomers at or 780-423-9677.

Local Community Initiatives

If you have a local or volunteer initiative you would like to highlight please send the information to

Organization / Initiative Looking For...

Computers for Refugees

Facebook Group

  • Donations of current computers and laptops for refugees

Edmonton Refugee Volunteers will help distribute.

Edmonton Islamic Relief Centre

Facebook Group

  • Volunteers to help sort and arrange donated items

Please note: all people who are in need are welcome to come and use the mini "shopping centre" we set up at 12650 151 Avenue, for people to select items they need.

The Edmonton Emergency Relief Services (EERSS)
with the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers and the Islamic Family and Social Services Association
  • Donations for the Syrian refugees and other newcomers to Canada
  • Donations for local victims of disaster or house-fires

10255 - 104 Street
9am-3pm, Monday to Friday

A Warm Welcome for Syrian Refugees Project
  • Gloves, scarves, and toques

Edmonton Refugee Volunteers

Facebook Group

We are a volunteer-based group that helps refugees directly, or through the many organizations providing support in Edmonton. We provide information on all events and organizations needing volunteers or donations.

#WelcomeRefugees: Join the conversation

The Government of Canada is encouraging Canadians to talk about this important initiative and share your stories. Use social media to share what you are doing - donating, volunteering or sponsoring - to help welcome Syrian refugees. Use the hashtag #WelcomeRefugees to join the conversation on Twitter.

How is Canada Sponsoring Refugees?

Government Sponsored Refugees

Currently in Edmonton there are a number of key stakeholders including social service agencies, community organizations and departments within all levels of government are collaborating on ways to assist with welcoming Edmonton’s newest citizens.

Catholic Social Services has a contract with Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada to coordinate the arrival of all Government Assisted Refugees and deliver a Refugee Orientation Program. For more information about the federal government’s plan, see Welcome Refugees.

Private & Community Sponsorships

Private refugee sponsors agree to provide refugees with care, lodging, settlement assistance and support. To sponsor a Syrian family of 5 for 1 year, it can cost up to $30,000 - 35,000. For more information, see Sponsoring Syrian Refugees - The Government of Canada.

Edmonton organizations that facilitate private sponsorships:

  • Catholic Social Services
  • The Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)
  • Islamic Family and Social Services (IFSSA): As partner with MCC, the agency connects with potential sponsors, fills out applications, and welcomes the new arrivals at the airport. The agency is responsible for providing settlement services to its sponsored families for 1 year.
  • Edmonton Sponsorship and Support Program (SSP) is a branch of a nation-wide project that trains lawyers to assist groups seeking to privately sponsor refugees. Edmonton SSP Lawyers are equipped with the legal knowledge and resources to offer pro bono (free) assistance to groups who wish to privately sponsor refugees.

Blended Visa, Officer Referred Refugees

In a partnership between the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNCHR), the federal government and private sponsors a blended visa, officer referred refugee can be brought into Canada. Refugees are added to an approved list from the UNHCR in which private sponsors can support a refugee for sponsorship. The federal government will provide up to 6 months of income support followed by 6 more months of financial support from the private sponsors.

Inland Refugee Claimants 

Refugees can claim asylum at Canadian ports of entry and are allowed to remain in Canada until the Immigration and Refugee Board determines their claim. At that point, they are either granted refugee status or deported.

Want to start your own community refugee sponsorship program?

Lifeline Syria has information available on their website to assist communities in establishing local initiatives like Lifeline Syria.

Who are the Syrian Refugees?

Refugees are people who are fleeing violence and/or persecution and are looking for safety. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), refugees are driven from their homes and communities by factors outside of their control.

Syria is now in its 5th year of civil war. Many Syrians have left their homes or have been displaced due to the turmoil of war.

The Government of Canada has committed to settling 25,000 Syrians by February 2016, with 10,000 refugees arriving by December 31, 2015. Alberta is expected to resettle 2,500 - 3,000 refugees.

The Canadian Council for Refugees provides useful information related to refugees.

What is the Settlement Process?

Key Phases for Syrian Refugee Movement to Edmonton
from pre-arrival to settlement.

Refugee System: Background

Canada’s refugee system falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government and is governed by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

The federal government, in partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, has sole jurisdiction over the selection of refugees, refugees entry to Canada and the resettlement of Government Assisted Refugees. It is also responsible for determining the validity of claims made by those seeking asylum at Canadian ports of entry.

The federal government provides funding to non-profit immigrant serving agencies in each of these centres to provide resettlement services and support. They are the first point of contact for receiving refugees in these communities.

Mayor Don Iveson

A Message from Mayor Don Iveson

Edmonton has always been a place where people from all corners of the world have been welcome. We are a vibrant, diverse and accepting city that steps up when the call for help is made.

I'm proud of the many Edmontonians that have come forward and stated their willingness to help those in need. They know Edmonton is not just for Edmontonians; it is a city open to our brothers and sisters from around the world, it is an Edmonton for all.
We welcome you.
- Mayor Don Iveson

Services for New Edmontonians

Services to help newcomers feel welcome and settle into Edmonton more quickly.

For More Information




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