How to Sponsor a Refugee – Podcast with Ratna Omidvar on Canada’s Unique Program

August 02, 2016

Got 27,000 Canadian dollars? If so, why not sponsor a family of refugees?

“People have come together with this idea of sponsoring as something they can do that helps refugees… where they can get personally engaged,” says Ratna Omidvar, a longtime advocate for diversity and inclusion, who last year was personally recommended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take up a seat in Canada’s Upper House of Parliament as an independent Senator for Ontario.

In this week's CGD podcast, Senator Omidvar discusses Canada’s experience of migration and refugees, and its unique program of private sponsorship. Click below to watch her explain more.

While other countries, including the UK and the US, have seen their politics dominated by domestic concerns about refugees and migrants, Canada prides itself on a sunnier narrative.

“Canada’s approach to migration is increasingly different from that of the rest of the world,” Omidvar says.

“Different” in this case means “much friendlier.” Canada has accepted more than 25,000 Syrian refugees, many more than the US, and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has personally welcomed refugees upon their arrival in the country. 

Why the difference? Omidvar, founder of the Ryerson University Global Diversity Exchange think tank and former chair of Lifeline Syria, a group that helps private citizens sponsor refugees to come to Canada, calls it “Canadian exceptionalism.” 

Omidvar recently spoke at a CGD event on survival migration


CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.