Refugee Ministry

"A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal"

October 15, 2019

Sunday morning our new friend Jonas spoke to us about his gratefulness for St. David's as he appeals his refugee status in the upcoming months. Jonas has become a familiar member of the worship community Sunday mornings and it was great to hear his expression of thankfulness to Rev. Peggy and others at St. David's as he prepares for his Appeal Hearing. If you are interested in becoming involved, contact the office or Rev. Peggy. 


September 16, 2018

This very special service featured a reflection on St. David's Refugee Committee by Donna Fallon. Our guests were among the 400 some Tibetan refugees who have arrived since 2014. Nima Dorjee from the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society offered his impressions of the journey taken by our newcomers as well as an overview of his own experiences since coming to Canada. A summary of what he told us follows. 

  • $1000.00 for each was the budgeted amount for what settlement would cost. In fact only $600 was spent. 
  • About 1/3 of our newcomers were illiterate, single moms.
  • All were at work within two months
  • 6 have managed to buy their own homes
  • After 80% had arrived, they raised funds to support the remaining 20%. A portion of each workers income was set aside to be sent back to India to the Refugee Camp in India from which our guests arrived.

This was Rev. Peggy's Gathering Prayer:

God of all life and all ways, we are whole, free, and unlimited Potential. We are followers of the Way: the way of Christ, the way of Moses, the way of Buddha, the way of Mohammed, the way of Confucius, or simply, the Way. The way to freedom brings the ability to live transparently in the largeness of Life. This day, as we gather together with visitors and friends, we prepare for Life and we go out to meet Life, expansively, in Love. Amen.


Special music at this service was shared by Wendy Daye, Bernard Davis and Kerry Duncan McCartney. After service, members of the Tibetan community provided goodies and entertainment. St. Davidians who were actively involved in welcoming our newcomers were presented with honourary white scarves by Nima Dorjee, director of the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society. 

September 10, 2018

Our Refugee Committee will be sharing in the service on September 16 along with members of the Tibetan community. 

August 22, 2018 Message from Donna Fallon, Refugee Committee 

Freewill donation for Calgary Tibetan Community Accident Victim 

Hello all,
We had a very good reception to our card signing and donation basket on Sunday.  $250. was  gifted. I have contacted Dechen about the donation and asked for a receipt to be provided to St David’s. We will give the cash envelope and cards to him.
All donations will go to expenses here and anything left over will go to her family in the camp, Dechen said, with appreciation.
One of our Committee will thank the congregation in “celebrations” on Sunday.   Blessings, Donna Fallon

February 20, 2018: Last Saturday, we were invited to attend a celebration in honour of the completion of the Tibetan Resettlement Project. Donna Fallon represented the Refugee Committee at the event. Here is a note from Nima. 

The Tibetan Resettlement Project was initiated with the request by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2007.  It was not until January 2009 when Immigration Minister Jason Kenney responded to that request and invited Canada Tibet Committee to lead this project.  Dermod Travis and Nima Dorjee led the discussions with the Minister’s office over the next two years resulting in the announcement by Minister Kenney of this project on December 18th, 2010.

Project Tibet Society was formed in May, 2011 specifically to manage this project.  Project Tibet Society chapters were formed in Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria.  Partnerships were formed shortly thereafter with Central Tibetan Administration (Tibetan government in exile in India), Calgary Catholic Immigration Society(CCIS), Catholic Centre for Immigrants (Ottawa), Office of Refugees Archdiocese of Toronto, Anglican Diocese of Canada (Victoria, BC), Spirit Dance Centre for Spiritual Ecology (Sunshine Coast, BC),  and Tibetan Cultural Society of BC.

Project Tibet Society board of directors are Ray Yee (BC), Tenzin Lhalungpa (Calgary) and Nima Dorjee (Calgary).  National leadership team was led by Nima Dorjee with the support of  Cornelius Von Bayer (Ottawa), Tsering Wangyal (Toronto), Evan How (Calgary), Ray Yee (BC), Karen Hurley (Victoria) and Janet Cotgrave (Sunshine Coast).  Our database creator and manager was Mr. Ross MacDonald (Calgary).

Well, the time has come for us to wind down this project and we would have you join us in the celebration of the successful conclusion of this project.   You have played a key role in our success and in the success of the lives of these new Tibetan refugees as they begin their new lives in Canada.

In total, approximately $180,000 was raised in cash and kind to support the project in Calgary to settle the 330 refugees.  100% of the revenues was used for direct service of the refugees.
We are grateful to the generosity of all our donors and in particular to Mr. Allan Markin for the seed money ($50,000) to this project and for allowing us to accommodate newcomers at his properties on the hill at COP and Bowness and for taking care of their wellness through Pure North S’energy. St. Thomas More provided rent and utilities ($18,000 (tbc)) for our McKnight House reception home for one year.  St. Lukes Catholic Church provided for rent and utilities ($17,500) for our Killarney reception home for one year.  Sisters of Charity of St. Louis provided an apartment for use as our transition home in Kensington for three years.  St. David United Church sponsored groceries for one of our reception home for the duration of the project and furniture drive.  We received support from the Calgary Rotary Club Downtown ($5000) and Rotary Club - Centennial ($2,700). We received support from Alberta Treasury Branch ($3,500).  The rest of the funds came through private donations and in kind.

Our partnership with Calgary Catholic Immigration Society was of immense value to the project with orientation and the initial reception for approximately 10 days for those who arrived in the first two years of the project.  CCIS also managed our donations and our expenses.  We partnered with Bank of Montreal (Aspen Landing) and with Alberta Treasury Branch to offer no-fees banking service and support.  We partnered with several employers in Calgary area notably with Engineered Air, Clearport, Mercato, Amware Pallet, Bloomstar Bouquet, Rimrock Resorts, Robert Tarta - painters and with Alberta Health Services (Foothills and Children’s Hospital) for employment.  Evan How, Ross MacDonald, Chodak, Dawa Choden and Tsering were the key volunteers for the settlement services in Calgary.  Karen Barkley and Louise Pajot Phipps supported our new arrivals in Banff and Canmore.  Youth support programming was led by Tenchoe Dorjee, Tenyang Dorjee and Tenzin Dorjee and a team of dedicated volunteers. Finally, in keeping with our project guiding principle of being mindful to helping others, to support the final 20% of the arrival, the newcomers collected $28,471 from within the group to support the remaining refugees and for some support back in the settlements.

Our record.  We operated this national project without any government funding and without a single paid staff and with just private donations. We were successful in ensuring over 90% to achieve basic financial self sufficiency by the third month of their arrival.  We achieved this through job placement rate at 80% to 95% (based on regions) nationally within the first two months of their arrival.  We ensured that not a single person relied on welfare through employment placement.

Example of our basic settlement cost:
In Calgary, our settlement cost was on average approximately $600 per person.
Bed cost per month  $150 X 2 = $300
Food cost per month $100 X2 = $200
Initial set up - new bedding, toiletries  $100

January 23, 2018

  • The Yalda Family has reached the official end of SDUC's one-year sponsorship, however members of SDUC and St. Thomas continue to visit and assist where needed/requested. Spending time with them is a joy. Christmas gift cards were well appreciated and the plan is that gift cards for groceries and dental fees will continue until the Fund is exhausted. St. Thomas adopted the family as their Christmas "Adopt-a-family" so the family received a tree with decorations and many presents. "They were thrilled," says Ruth, Chair of the Refugee Committee. Karen from St. Thomas and her daughter took the whole family tobagganing and Mirna reported that they had a blast. The family attended St. Thomas on January 14 to be introduced. Mirna progressed to Level 7 LINC English classes in early January and will write a test in February to qualify for High School upgrading. Meanwhile, Mom Aedah progressed to Level 4 LINC English classes. 
  • The Tibetan Project during which some 400 refugees from Tibet have settled in Calgary has only a family of four yet to arrive. A celebration of the Tibetan Project Conlcusion and the Tibetan New Year is planned for February 17th. The invitation will be open to those who have been involved in the Project. There will be dinner, performances, speeches and dancing. 500 are expected to attend. 
  • The Refugee Committee, an Ad-Hoc Committee of SDUC Council, have completed their task for now and will reconvene as needed in the future. Thank you for all your devotion to this outreach program of St. David's.

November 23, 2017

Update on the St David's Tibetan Resettlement Project                                    

Hello everyone,This has been an extended project for the Calgary Tibetan Project organizers, Nima, Ross, Tsering and Evan. They are understandably looking forward to it's completion. There were arrivals here, and other places on November 2, and there are still some applications pending approval or rejection by Canadian Immigration in New Delhi. There are four pending for Calgary and 25 for Canada. Arrived already are Calgary 337 and Canada 950.The November 2 arrivals at Bina Transition are three families, totalling 10.St David's continues to take the Bina Transition Home residents shopping for groceries and household supplies, usually only for their first two months here.In the past year and a half close to $4000 has been spent by St David's to help the Project. Individuals and the St David's Foundation have donated to the Tibetan Fund to support this much appreciated support to the Calgary Project. Several of us volunteer to take the residents shopping weekly, including Symon's Valley United Church volunteers. The St David's Fund is in good shape and we expect it to be sufficient to complete St David's effforts.Furnishings have been generously donated and are only occasionally requested now.             

Thank you for the many ways that you support this Project.             

Blessings, Donna Fallon, St David's Refugee Committee

October 1, 2017

Chair person, Ruth Cross, provided an update on our refugee programs at St. David's. 

The Yalda Family has reached the end of one year’s sponsorship. September rent was paid for. Legacy gift of $5000 for financial independence is available. Family is operating on a $3500 budget monthly. Refugee committee is helping with transportation, new lease agreement and advice. Ruth is an eager helper. Steady improvement in English language is noted. All though quite isolated socially, the Yalda's are delightful happy people.

Donna Fallons' update: Nine more Tibetan refugees (of the 400) arrived by September. There are 12 more to come. Only two of the 9 needed help with shopping. So much time has been contributed by volunteers thus far. Our help has been most appreciated. St. Thomas' volunteers have been amazing partners.  

March 28, 2017

Ruth Cross provided an update on the progress of the Yalda Family at the Council meeting: 

Because of the backup in security at immigration, only 2 of the incoming Tibetan refugees have arrived. The remaining 20+ will be here ASAP. 

For our Yalda family, dental care is underway with the generous care being offered almost at cost. Wisdom teeth removal, new dentures and cavities repaired for family members are underway. Both mom and dad are working on their English. Children are attending school. Mr. Yalda will be enrolled at Bow Valley in the LINC program in early May. Meanwhile, he is most willing to accept work. 

March 5, 2017

Ruth Cross, Chair of the Refugee Committee, discussed the progress made by the Yalda family.Since their arrival in early September, the Refugee Committee have been working with all six members of the family. Mrs. Yalda is in English classes while Mr. Abid Yalda is still on the waitlist. He speaks Arabic and Syrian. Pat Fryers is helping arrange for dental care and applications for dental benefits. Laura (Duker) is helping with language issues as is Ruby Ramish.  Children are all in school and seeming to do well. Mr. Abid Yalda is available for casual employment in electrical field while he is learning English. Check out the Newsletter for March 5 to see if we can find some gainful employment for Abed during the interim before language classes start in full. Transportation can be an issue with no vehicle but public transit seems to work.

Donna Fallon reports that the last group of 24 Tibetan refugees will be arriving in April. Six of the previous folks are working in Canmore.  

February 5, 2017

The Yalda family joined us in worship in January and each, in turn, introduced themselves and talked a little about their life thus far in Canada. This week's challenge has undoubtedly been the weather. 

Fundraising will need to be done in the near future. Refugee fund currently is $12,368. Dental care is an expensive venture. 

The Tibetans are doing well. $3361 is in the designated fund. Only 24 of the original goal of 400 folks have yet to come. Many of the single folk are currently working in Canmore. 

December 20, 2016

The Yalda Family is settling well. Three volunteers are helping with the teaching of English and Mr. and Mrs. Yalda are taking ESL lessons, 4 hours each week. Formal lessons will begin in January with LINC. (Long waiting list). Sally Hodges is helping Mr. Yalda with his resume - would welcome electrical jobs. The family is still waiting for its Child Benefit funding. The family is mourning the loss of the paternal father in Iraq. Meanwhile, nine new Tibetans have arrived, living at the Bina house, so grocery shopping sessions on Saturday are underway. 

November 10, 2016

TIBET PROJECT UPDATE                          
The Bina Transition Home has been quiet for several months now. There have been no new arrivals since April and our help with groceries and furnishings has not been needed since late May.
The good news is we started shopping again this week as the first 9 of the people still to come arrived November 3. The total number to come has decreased from 60 or so to 40 or so.

Thanks to individual donations and the Foundation, we expect to be able to provide groceries for the remaining newcomers as they settle in Calgary. The next arrivals will not be until January.

The Calgary Project rental of the McKnight Transition Home was finished at the end of September and the furnishings from there were spread among the Tibetans first, then Habitat and Value Village. The downtown Bina Transition Home that was acquired a year ago has room for 14 people. The caretaker there, Gelek, has been alone since late July when the two families still there moved to their own homes.

Tsering reports that the whole Project is going well; adults are working and the children are in school. This last year or so most have rented in the Westbrook and Killarney areas which is good for schooling and use of public transit and a close community.
With appreciation for all the support that St David's and Symons Valley provides to this Project,

Donna Fallon, St David's Refugee Committee

October 26, 2016

Abid Yalda, with the help of Sally Hodges, is working on his resume. Evidently, he is an accomplished technician. His family of six is settling in to Ranchlands. His eldest daughter is studying English four hours daily and, in turn, shares her new competency with her parents and three younger siblings. He and his wife will soon be able to teach all of us how to live well on limited funds as they demonstrate their drive to succeed. 

September, 2016

The Yalda family are here! They have moved into their home in Ranchlands and all four children have started school following three years where attending school was not an option. St. David's and St. Thomas' refugee committees have helped with their settlement. There are many ways for all of us to help out.  

Abid’s family of six spent three years in Lebanon awaiting their move to Canada. Many thanks to those who have contributed to their living costs while there. Continued support for their new life in Canada is most appreciated. 

Our former Iraqi refugee, Sultana, along with her family and a contingent of excited St. Davidians, welcomed Khalid, Sultana's husband, home to Calgary on Fathers' Day. Khalid has been separated from his family for over 20 years. The Hodges and Ruth Cross joined the family for a reunion meal. "He is so happy to be here!" 


October 26, 2016 There are only 60 - 70 to arrive of the original 400 Tibetan refugees who are calling Calgary home. The work of the refugee committee has certainly become less demanding as our new arrivals have gained their financial independence. The Saturday grocery shoppers have their  mornings off, the children are attending school and residences, primarily in Westbrook and Killarney areas, are furnished. Life is good. 





St David's is to be celebrated for its generosity in support of the Tibetan's here in Calgary! The SDUC FOUNDATION recently provided additional funding of $2000 to the Project. Some 60 Tibetans are expected to arrive in September, bringing the total to 400. $500-600 is used each month to support this program. We would like to continue doing this as our efforts are so much appreciated by the direct recipients and by Nima and the Calgary Tibetan Refugee Settlement Project. 

Remember, donations for this are tax deductible and assigned to the St David's Tibet Fund. Donations of furniture and household items have also been very much appreciated over the past two years. There will be more homes to furnish so donations of these items are also welcome. Contact:

Donna Fallon, 403 282 9799 or [email protected]