Our Activities

OCRA sponsors and settles refugees in Ottawa through the Canadian government’s Private Sponsorship program. We have undertaken sponsorships in both the Blended Visa Office-Referred Program (BVOR) stream and through sponsorships of specific named individuals and families. (The BVOR program cannot be used to bring specific relatives of refugees already settled in Canada.) The cost to sponsor specific individuals or families is about twice the cost of sponsorship under the BVOR program. We:

  • prepare and compile documentation for refugee determination and sponsorship applications
  • prepare settlement plans and budgets
  • raise funds to pay sponsorship and settlement costs
  • recruit volunteers to carry out settlement plans and assist refugee families
  • work with First United Church Ottawa and the Anglican Church to implement settlement budgets
  • find housing and suitable educational arrangements for families
  • assist families to adjust to life in Canada during and after the settlement period
  • advocate on behalf of refugees on issues and delays in the processing of applications

Refugee Settlement

Our settlement activities are carried out primarily by Family Support Groups that support and assist each refugee family. These groups of volunteers begin working with sponsored families as soon as they arrive. They organize temporary and longer-term housing, furniture, kitchen and household supplies, clothing and much more. Just as importantly, members of Family Support Groups provide friendship, guidance, and advice throughout the sponsorship year. Many volunteers continue to be involved with sponsored families well past the 12-month period of support that the government requires.

Depending on the needs and circumstances of a refugee family, Family Support Groups help:

  • draft detailed settlement plans
  • provide emotional support and friendship
  • locate soft-landing housing before permanent housing is arranged
  • locate permanent housing and help communicate with landlords
  • source donations of clothing, household goods and furniture
  • assist with setting up utilities and phone services
  • enroll children in school
  • arrange language testing and language schooling for adults
  • help with banking
  • manage medical needs, including OHIP enrollment, dentists and family doctors
  • arrange interpretation
  • provide formal and informal English lessons
  • help with grocery shopping
  • assist with employment counselling and job search
  • provide transportation and arrange transit passes
  • enroll children in community recreational and social programs
  • introduce families to Canadian customs
  • help families cope with Canadian winter

Settlement of Close Relatives

Since 2017, many of OCRA’s sponsorships have been close relatives of families who have already been settled here. Detailed support plans are prepared and implemented in these cases; however, family members who are already settled in Canada normally take a large role in getting their relatives settled and established. They provide interpretation and translation, often provide initial housing before permanent housing is arranged, and help newcomers to become oriented to life in Canada.