11 Nov 2015
A B.C. resort manager is floating the idea of having Syrian refugees housed at his property outside of Golden, B.C.
Beaverfoot Lodge is located about a half an hour away from Golden, and Raphael Assaf and the resort’s owner believe it would be an ideal location for new refugees to live temporarily once they’re in Canada.
“It’s about helping these people. I am the son of an immigrant. I’ve travelled the Middle East, and they’re people just like us and they need our help,” Assaf told On The Coast’s Gloria Macarenko. “If the government is really going to go this far, this fast, all we thought was, we all need to dig deep and see is there anything we can do, individually.”
Assaf says Beaverfoot Lodge is used for cross-country skiing in the winter and hosts weddings in the summer.
He says they could sleep 70 people during the winter, feed them and provide transportation to and from nearby places like Golden or Calgary. Assaf says the resort could shut down for about five months
But refugees aren’t tourists on holiday. What about health care, education, language lessons and employment?
“I really believe the community will pitch in once something gets started,” he said. “We have quite a bit to offer. Other things would need to fall into place.”
Sherman Chan, director of family and settlement services with Mosaic, an organization that helps to settle refugees and immigrants, says he’s excited by the proposal.
“I think it’s really a true reflection of what we believe: that we’re proud to have refugees and that we believe we can do it,” he said.
“I think giving them the opportunity to stay at a resort or a place that they can be at ease without worrying where they’re going to live and when they’re going to depart … I think that’s an exciting opportunity for them.”
He says that while the resort is remote, the fact that all the refugees are in one place would make it less difficult to get them used to Canadian culture and access social services, especially since the resort has vehicles.
“Golden, I’ve been there many times. It’s a good town with good facilities that people can use, or they can interact with the local Canadians and long-term residents and really build up relationships,” he said.
He says the things that Assaf and the owners of Beaverfoot need to ensure are in place are orientation support, cultural support and language education.
Chan says the local community and groups like Mosaic could be valuable partners.