Update March 2021: The Quebec sponsorship program by organizations is suspended until 2022, at least.
40 years of commitment to refugees
Canada has always been a preferred destination for people seeking asylum, mainly because of its open immigration policies. In addition to this, there are programs specific to certain groups, such as Vietnamese refugees (boat people) in the late 1970s.
It was the miserable and dangerous situation of these Southeast Asian refugees that prompted Father General Pedro Arrupe to launch an appeal to all religious at the end of 1979. In French Canada, following the appeal of Father Julien Harvey, provincial, $250,000 was collected to sponsor and welcome 32 refugee families totaling 164 people. Fathers Jean-Louis d’Aragon and Paul-Émile Papillon were responsible for the operation, assisted by members of the Centre Vimont community.
After the success of the campaign in the early 1980’s, funds ran out. Requests from abroad kept coming in, and Canada was a sought-after destination. In the spring of 1981, the Jesuit Missions Office of French Canada took over and created its sponsorship service. The Service also accompanied many people, including several refugees now settled in Canada, in their own sponsorship efforts.
With the signing and renewal of a framework agreement with the Quebec Ministry of Immigration that has allowed the reception of so many refugees. The Jesuits are recognized as an “experienced organization”. They are members of major refugee advocacy organizations.