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The West Kootenay Friends of Refugees has decided to sponsor a 3rd family, this time from Syria. Fundraising has begun and kicked off last night with a classical music fundraiser with Nicola Everton, Sue Gould and Noemie Kiss who donated their time and beautiful music for the house concert.

Forty-five guests enjoyed the hour long concert as well as socializing, eating and drinking for the cause. The group raised $4500 from the concert as well as additional donations from people that couldn’t attend taking the total to well over $5000.

This is a great start to keeping the funds going to meet the new goal of WKFoR to sponsor one refugee family a year to Rossland.

Thanks to the volunteers who coordinated the event, donated food and for those who came to enjoy the evening. Thank you to Rossland Beer Co who provided the beer for the fundraising event and a raffle door prize.

Anyone interested to get involved is welcome to join the next meeting, Wednesday, December 2nd, 7pm at the Seniors Hall in Rossland.


On Wednesday, Aug. 25th, Ruta Zaharias and her two sons Eyobed and Yonathan arrived at the Castlegar airport from Cairo, where they have been living for a year and a half, after escaping from Eritrea.  On hand to greet the family were members of West Kootenay Friends of Refugees. The group has been working for three years to bring refugee families to our area.

As a special surprise, two friends of Ruta’s, Salam and Helen, both now living in Nelson, were at the airport to welcome her to her new life.  These two women, also Eritrean refugees, were sponsored by a Nelson refugee support group this summer and have had a little time to figure out how things work in Canada.  Their presence was a comfort to Ruta and they accompanied her to her new home in Rossland for the first night.

Ruta left her home in Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea, after her husband disappeared and she felt unsafe.  After a difficult journey to Egypt, she was helped by an Orthodox Christian church group, while she applied to the UN High Commission for Refugees for official status. She then applied to Canada for Permanent Residency. Once she had been approved, her name and story were shared with sponsoring groups across the country, and the West Kootenay Friends were able to choose her (from hundreds of qualified applicants).

With Eyobed ready to start kindergarten next week and Yonathan eager to meet other children his age in the Strong Start program, Ruta has already been exploring the community, with the help of members of the West Kootenay Friends of Refugees group, figuring out the best way to walk to the school and the grocery store. They also enjoyed a day at Kootenay Lake visiting the cabin of Sue and Rick Greene.


There is a great need for Canadians to sponsor the thousands of refugees flooding out of countries where their lives are at risk, and, while the Rossland group feels that they can’t do much to address the larger issues, they can make a difference to this little family. For six months, Ruta will be receiving some government assistance as well as health care and child benefits and for the following six months she will be subsidized by the funds raised in Rossland over the past three years.

The West Kootenay Friends of Refugees would like to thank everyone who has contributed in any way to making our efforts successful.  If you would like to join the group or find out more about it, check out our website, or call Jan at 250-362-5289. We would love to help others learn how to sponsor refugees and would be very grateful for any donations – which can be done online.

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Three months into their new life in Canada, the San-Latt family has experienced the challenges and rewards that would face any of us if we relocated to a country far from home.  One very special event has taken place: On Monday, March 17, Lun Lun San and Aung Ko Ko Latt welcomed Michael David, their second son, into the world – a new Canadian citizen.  He is a brother to three-year-old Samuel, and a delight to the “aunties” (and a few “uncles”) who make up the West Kootenay Friends of Refugees (WKFoR). Michael David is a healthy boy weighing almost 9 pounds at birth.

In their first months in Rossland, the family has adapted well to the climate. They have discovered the joy of down jackets, mittens and warm boots while learning to shovel snow and navigate icy roads – skills not needed in Kuala Lumpur or Burma.  They have learned how to feed their wood stove to make it through our chilly winter nights and have welcomed the donations of firewood that have been dropped off.  The help of the Rossland Food bank, local merchants like Ronnie Mah, and the staff at Ferraros’ store is much appreciated.

Aung Ko Ko has been attending English classes at Selkirk College in Trail as well as working hard with the volunteer tutors in Rossland. Aung Ko Ko is taking the bus, figuring out the schedule and locations while practicing his new vocabulary whenever possible. Both he and Lun Lun San have been taking Samuel to the Strong Start program at the Rossland Summit School and are hoping that he will develop some friendships with children his age.  The family has enjoyed the Trail Aquatic Centre and Samuel is learning to swim.

Aung Ko Ko, looks forward to the day when he will have a job in the community. He has experience as a cook. He is very eager to begin supporting his family, although right now his main focus is learning to speak English. Aung Ko Ko’s main job now is washing diapers and preparing food for his family. Lun Lun San is trained as a hairdresser, and she will work when she can. They both have a variety of strong job skills.

Members of the WKFoR would like to thank all those who have made donations of money and personal and household items to make life a little easier for our first family of refugees.  We are still waiting to hear about our second family and will provide an update when possible. If you would like to donate or help out call Kathy Moore 362-3319 or visit our website to learn more:


After a long flight from Kuala Lumpur, the San family arrived at the Cranbrook airport on Dec. 10, and were welcomed by WKFoR chairperson Kathy Moore.  To facilitate their transition, arrangements were made for them to spend their first night with a Burmese family, who have been living in Cranbrook for some time and who had been sponsored by the East Kootenay Friends of Burma.


In preparation for the significant change in climate, Moore crammed her car with warm clothing and also provided a car seat for the youngest member of the family – a two and a half year old toddler.  On the morning of Dec. 11, the Sans were driven through the spectacular winter scenery of the Kootenay Pass to their new home in Rossland.


The local group of sponsors has been fundraising for two years and more recently working to set up a home for the new arrivals. They would like to thank all Rosslanders who have made donations of money and other items.  In an earlier press release we asked for an angel to step forward to help with a suitable living space for the San family and were fortunate that our request was answered for the first six months of their new life in Canada.  After that time period, the sponsor group will be looking for other accommodation. 


As the Sans settle into Rossland, the WKFoR group members will be visiting daily to help with language acquisition, budgeting, using the bus, shopping and all the routines of Canadian life. The goal is for this family to be integrated and independent by the end of a year.  Under the blended sponsorship program, the local group’s fundraising will be supplemented by social assistance from the federal government for the first six months. 


The San family fled ethnic and religious persecution in Burma based on their Christian beliefs and have been living for several years in Malaysia, a country that offers respite but no permanent asylum to refugees.  Burma was on the list of five countries identified by the Canadian government in 2013 as having refugees most in need and best able to resettle in Canada.


For more information or to offer help, please contact Kathy Moore ( or call 250-362-3319


Come learn the ins and outs of chocolate with local chocolatier Trish Dyer of Mountain Nugget .

Date: Saturday, March 9th, 7-10 pm.

Location: Rouge Gallery in Rossland

Tickets: $30 and include 3 varieties of wine paired with chocolate, live music and appies.

There will also be a silent auction with many fabulous items and services offered from your favourite local businesses.

Only 50 tickets will be sold, purchase at the Rouge Gallery, Mountain Nugget or email to RSVP.

Ticket sales will close on March 2 2013.

This is event is a fundraiser for the West Kootenay Friends of Refugees.

Thanks to Columbia Basin Trust as well as the WKFoR volunteers for supporting this event!

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

The West Kootenay Friends of Refugees (WKFoR), a newly formed society, is sponsoring two Burmese families to Rossland, British Columbia, Canada. The WKFoR is raising $20,000 to support the two refugee families for their first year of re-settlement.

Refugees are people who have fled their home country due to a well founded fear of persecution.  W are fundraising to provide our two families with a new home where they will enjoy a safe environment, the opportunity to eat, sleep, work, be educated, and live in peace.

Who are the families moving to Rossland?

The two refugee families were persecuted for their ethnicity during decades of military rule.  They were conscripted as slaves in labour camps and managed to escape to Malaysia where they have been living as refugees for more than seven years.  The families are currently working as street vendors and doing odd jobs to survive, always under threat from gangs, violence and poverty.  In one family, all the men were killed during the civil war.

What are we fundraising for?

We plan to support one year of modest living expenses for four adults and their four children.   This includes shelter, clothing and food.   We are also securing in kind donations for furniture, transportation, education, dentistry and cultural support to help the families learn about life in Canada.  We have a fundraising goal of $20,000.00

How will this benefit our community?

Diversity is a trademark of Canada and sponsoring Burmese refugees to rural BC is important to diversity, cross-cultural learning and developing global citizens in our rural regions!  Despite suffering many human rights abuses, our sponsored families have career aspirations, passions and goals to make a fulfilling and positive contribution to Canadian society.  Former refugees that have been sponsored in south-eastern BC on average have supported themselves within nine months via employment in service jobs that other Canadians were not interested in.  These are highly motivated, grateful, and humble individuals.  We are confident they will enhance our community and our country socially, economically and culturally.  In addition, both families have school aged children which will help facilitate integration within the community.

Your contribution

Please consider a donation to help us reach our goal of $20,000.  Together we will make a direct difference for these eight people by giving them the opportunity to call Rossland, BC, Canada their home. You can find out more about our two families, their history and their dreams on our website

Our sister organization provides charitable tax receipts for donations over $20.00.  You can donate online via our website: or by sending a cheque to: West Kootenay Friends of Refugees, P.O. Box 1597, Rossland, B.C., V0G 1Y0.  Please note our group is completely volunteer run and all overhead expenses are donated in kind.

Thank you in advance for your compassion and consideration,

The volunteers of the West Kootenay Friends of Refugees

Thank You (LtoR):Patrick Walker, Shawn Nelson, Dean Corkill, me, Gerald Heacock, Brandon Surcess, George Lupieri (missing:Heather Dobson)

The West Kootenay Friends of Refugees (WKFOR) recently received a big boost from an AMEC barbecue that raised $1873 and a quilt raffle that pulled in $1400, bringing us half way to our total fundraising goal of $20,000.  We are preparing  to welcome two Burmese refugee families to Rossland some time in the next year.

A big thank you goes to Dean Corkill who promoted the cause to AMEC.  In addition to the BBQ, a silent auction was held with generous donations from AMEC, Amore’s Ristorante, Got Juiced, L’bear’s, Mountain Nugget Chocolate Company, Performance Fitness, Seven Summits Coffee Company Lawerence Chow and Leon Fisher (who donated very popular hand tied fishing lures).

Learn more in a great article published by the Rossland Telegraph.

Drawing for the winner of the donated quilt outside Rossland Library, Aug 1, 2012.

After many months of waiting, the draw for a quilt donated by the USCC Cultural Interpretive Society from the Doukhobor community took place August 1st, 2012 in Rossland, B.C.

And the winner is….Nemaiah Shaw (age 17) from Rossland, B.C.

Nemaiah Shaw was the happy winner and generously donated the quilt she won to refugee families the West Kootenay Friends of Refugees (WKFoR) are sponsoring to move to Rossland.

Fifteen people sold raffle tickets as part of this successful fundraising event for the WKFoR.

Learn more about fundraising efforts in a recent article published by the Rossland Telegraph.

The West Kootenay Friends of Refuges (WKFoR) recently hosted an intimate evening fundraising event at Kathy Moore’s home in Rossland.

The  Valhalla ArtsTrio with cellist, Johanne Perron, clarinetist Nicola Everton, pianist Suzanne Ruberg-Gordon and twelve year old Isabella D’Éloize Perron, delighted audiences with their mix of classical and contemporary chamber music.

The event was a success raising over $1,900 for the WKFoR. The WKFoR are currently raising $20,000 to sponsor two refugee families from Burma to resettle in Canada.

Refugees are those people who have fled their home country due to a well founded fear of persecution. After fleeing the repressive military regime in Myanmar which continues to persecute ethnic minorities, these two families are currently living in refugee camps in Malyasia, but they can not settle there permanently. Groups and individuals in Canada are able to apply to privately sponsor refugees who have been approved for resettlement to a third country. This is separate from the government’s regular immigration program. Private sponsorship enables more refugees resettle and start new lives.  

The funds that WKFoR are raising will go to supporting the families for their first year in Rossland. 

Isabella D’Éloize Perron with the trumpet violin. Nicola found this instrument on a bicycle journey in Burma.

Musicians and guests enjoying the evening.