Updated: Jul 27, 2020
Written by: Anthony Bakerdjian, a strategic fundraiser and relationship builder in the GTA.
We’re well into the summer months and as our thoughts drift towards the fall, it’s natural for us to reflect on how many aspects of our lives are still on hold due to the pandemic. While our current circumstances have been destabilizing for many, the realities of coming to Canada as a refugee — especially during a pandemic — are immensely more destabilizing and precarious. Micah House addresses these realities by helping families and individuals who are new to Canada but have no support networks or resources.
If you’re like me, Micah House has flown under the radar as a little known secret in Hamilton. Whether you’ve lived in Hamilton all your life or — as in my case — you recently moved here, you may be unaware of this ministry and the meaningful and significant work they’re doing in the heart of this city.
I recently had the privilege to visit them and see firsthand the good work they’re doing to help refugees to Canada get settled. Micah House is located just east of the International Village in downtown Hamilton, in a small house on a quiet residential street. It is a safe place for new comers to Canada to find some stability as they work towards building their new lives here. At the time of my visit, there were three families in residence. Typically, up to 15 people can stay at Micah House at one time and guests are welcomed on a first-come, first serve basis. Guests stay at Micah house for two months and receive assistance to find more permanent housing. Legal aid is provided to guide new refugee claimants through Canada’s immigration system.
What stands out most about Micah House is its two-pronged approach to helping newcomers to Canada get integrated into society and within their local communities, regardless of the reason they are seeking asylum. The guests’ stories are both courageous and harrowing in their accounts of leaving loved ones behind or fleeing their countries for fear of violence and death.
One such account comes from a father of 14 who came to Canada in search of a better life. Upon his arrival, he traveled to Hamilton and sought help from Micah House. During his stay, caring staff members helped him to find housing and begin the immigration application process. He hoped that his family would join him quickly, however, the entire reunion process stretched over seven years. Sadly, not all of his family made it to Canada because two of his daughters were tragically murdered. Despite the hardship and tragedy, he credits Micah House with helping him at the most vulnerable season of his life. There are many other accounts like this one and no matter the circumstance, each person is treated with intrinsic worth and dignity.
With the current pandemic, the needs of families new to Canada remain just as pressing, if not more so now. At a time when societal inequalities are most visible and calls for social change are widespread, it is important that we don’t overlook this oft-forgotten portion of our population.
If you’d like to find out more about Micah House and ways that you can support their ministry, please go to www.micahhouse.ca/donate.