DLA Piper students aim to sponsor Syrian refugees

A group of articling students at DLA Piper Canada’s Toronto office are the latest in the legal profession to embark on a mission to sponsor a Syrian refugee family in their quest to come to here.

dla articlingThe group of five students launched a fundraising campaign yesterday to bring a Syrian mother and her four-month-old baby to Canada. The baby’s father was killed in the past few weeks, says Simon Hurdon, one of the students behind the initiative.

A day after launching the campaign, the students have raised more than $2,700 towards their $15,000 goal. Hurdon says that’s the bare minimum they’re hoping to raise for the mother and child, who have family in Canada to assist them as well.

“We wanted to use our articling term in this Bay Street office, where people kind of have a lot — to do something meaningful that would be a bit more tangible than the usual fundraisers that you see,” Hurdon says.

“We thought this would be quite meaningful and tangible but also topical with everything in the news right now that is incredibly heartbreaking,” he adds.

Although the students hope to get donations from within the firm, the fundraising is not done through DLP Piper and the group will seek contributions from their private circles as well.

Hurdon says the response within the firm “has been tremendous” so far. “I think the response we get from here will be great; we’ve already received very kind donations from several lawyers yesterday, but obviously we’re hoping for much more.”

Anba Abraam's Coptic Charity, a Mississauga-based organization, will hold the funds in trust for the family, who is now taking refuge in Lebanon, and dispense it to them upon their arrival in Canada, Hurdon explains. The charity would be the official sponsor on immigration papers, but the students would be the donors.

Meanwhile, the University of Ottawa Refugee Hub, has, together with the Canadian Bar Association and other groups, launched a refugee sponsorship support program. Lawyers, law students, and sponsorship experts will be giving pro bono consultations to Canadians seeking to sponsor Syrian refugees.

About 450 lawyers across Canada, nearly 100 of them CBA members, are participating in the program, says Stéphane Duval, chair of the CBA’s immigration law section.

“We did the same when there was the Philippines storm and we did the same also when there was the earthquake in Haiti,” Duval says. But while volunteers for the Philippines and Haiti initiative were between 10 and 25 in number, Duval says an unprecedented number of lawyers have made themselves available this time.

Those seeking sponsorship help from within or outside of Canada will be told about their options, if options are available to them, Duval says, adding lawyers will also help out in filling out forms and submitting applications.

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