Reaching Out Assisting Refugees chairperson, Blaine Wikins, left, stands beside ROAR members Mike Scott and Alessandro Iachelli and Nanaimo Pride Society members Lauren Semple, Vanessa Purdy and Nic Carper. The Nanaimo Pride Society presented ROAR with $1,000. The money will be used to provide financial assistance to an incoming refugee sponsored by members of ROAR. (Photo contributed)

Nanaimo group aims to bring LGBTQ refugee to city

ROAR holding fundraising event at Queens on Dec. 2

An LGBTQ refugee from Middle East could soon call the Harbour City home.

Reaching Out Assisting Refugees, or ROAR, a volunteer group that focuses on resettling LGBTQ refugees, is expecting its first privately sponsored refugee to arrive in Nanaimo in the coming weeks.

Alessandro Iachelli, vice-chairperson of ROAR, said the incoming refugee, a young man who identifies as LGBTQ, should arrive in Nanaimo sometime this month or early next year.

“We don’t have a date but we do know they got their final approval, pending security checks,” Iachelli said.

ROAR was formed in 2016 with the intention of resettling refugees who identify as LGBTQ. Two private refugee sponsorship groups have been formed within ROAR, which has partnered with Brechin United Church.

While one group within ROAR is expecting a refugee any week now, the second group has just filed the paperwork to bring another LGTBQ refugee to Nanaimo.

“We are pretty lucky in Canada,” Iachelli said. “In that area of the world (the Middle East) there is still a lot of societal stigma around gay people.”

Many of ROAR’s members identify as LGBTQ themselves, according to Iachelli, who said although the group partners with Brechin United, ROAR itself is non-denominational and has partnerships with other organizations.

“We partner with Rainbow Refugee in Vancouver, they specifically deal with LGBTQ individuals and so on,” Iachelli said. “We’re also making connections with other similar organizations in Toronto.”

Recently, the Nanaimo Pride Society provided a $1,000 donation to ROAR, which will be used to help resettle the incoming refugee. ROAR is also holding a beer and burger fundraiser on Saturday, Dec. 2 at the Queen’s beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Iachelli said money raised from the event will be used toward resettlement services of a second LGBTQ refugee being sponsored by members of ROAR.

“All the funds go into the refugee fund we have and they will help to provide the necessary funds to support them financially, socially and emotionally,” he said.

For many refugees fleeing their home it can be extremely difficult. Iachelli said for LGBTQ refugees it can be made even more challenging because many of them don’t share their the sexual orientation with their family or friends, for fear of being stigmatized.

“It’s a little more complicated that way because of discrimination,” he said.

Iachelli said it’s his understanding that many LGBTQ refugees don’t end up in traditional United Nations refugee camps, but instead elect to try to make it somewhere safe on their own.

“A lot of them, especially the younger generations of refugees, just flee their countries and try to get to whatever embassy they can,” he said.

Although ROAR is based in Nanaimo, the group is looking to expand across Vancouver Island and is encouraging anyone who is interested and living in other Island communities to reach out to them.

“We are really excited about the project and we are in it for the long haul,” he said. “We hope to expand Vancouver Island wide. If there is interest from the north Island or wherever, we want to be able to connect with those people as well and hopefully grow the project.”

Iachelli said he’s looking forward to ROAR’s first wave of sponsored refugees to arrive in the city. He said the incoming refugees will add diversity to Nanaimo and the Island.

“These people are going to come here and contribute to our communities in various ways,” he said.

For more information on ROAR and the beer and burger event, please visit https://www.roarrefugees.com/beer-burger-fundraiser.


nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com

Like us on Facebook or follow Nicholas Pescod on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Infringing festival finds a way to dance during pandemic

Crimson Coast Dance Society holding drive-in, micro and physically distanced events July 10-19

Nanaimo sees Island’s first nurse practitioner primary care clinic

Nexus Primary Care Clinic opened in late June in south end

Nanaimo RCMP ask for help finding missing 19-year-old

Haley Murphy has not been seen since Tuesday, June 30, say police

Learning outside the classroom suits VIU’s carpentry program just fine

Vancouver Island University has partnered with KSG Consulting Ltd. to provide hands-on learning

Nanaimo chef the Sensitive Vegan takes tongue-in-cheek approach to serious cooking

Jesse Rubboli creates cassava-based recipes and shares them via YouTube and on social media

B.C. accommodators need phone lines to light up as in-province travel given green light

Travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic have decimated the tourism and hospitality industries

300 Cache Creek residents on evacuation alert due to flood risk as river rises

Heavy rainfall on Canada Day has river rising steadily, threatening 175 properties

First glimpse of Canada’s true COVID-19 infection rate expected mid-July

At least 105,000 Canadians have tested positive for COVID-19 since the coronavirus was identified

Annual music event in Comox Valley celebrates online instead

Vancouver Island MusicFest holds virtual celebration set for July 10

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

Most Read