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World Refugee Day – June 20

World Refugee Day (June 20) is a day to show that the Canada stands with refugees. Between June 14 and 20, MCC Toronto will be sharing daily posts that speak to the plight of LGBTQ+ Refugees and the work we do to support them in their fight for safety, love and acceptance through our LGBTQ+ Refugee Programs. Show refugees they are not alone – Help Support MCC Toronto’s LGBTQ+ Refugee Programs.

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World Refugee Day

Today, on World Refugee Day, we honour the courage, resilience and amazing spirit of thousands of LGBTQ+ refugees who have participated with MCC Toronto’s LGBTQ+ Refugee Programs. We have witnessed them surviving—escaping unimaginable horrors—and them thriving and we are amazed by their joy and spirit in the face of hardship. If you can help, please consider supporting the work that we do with LGBTQ+ Refugees Donate Today

These are the faces of strength and resilience:  


How We Help – Success Stories

We are honored to provide information, support, programming, and a non-judgmental ear to displaced LGBTQ+ folks as they progress through the intense, confusing and sometimes painful process of making Toronto their home. Though the first few months and years after receiving protection in Canada isn’t usually the easiest, it is a privilege to witness the transformations that take place when LGBTQ+ folks are able to settle safely and feel their PRIDE! 

“From the darkest days of my life to the brightest ones. Someone who did not feel they belong anywhere to someone who is proud to call Canada, home. MCC Toronto has brought all the colours back to my life.’

Edward, sponsored refugee, now a permanent resident of Canada. 

We invite all the refugees who participate in our programs to march with MCC Toronto in Toronto Pride’s Trans March and Parade. It is truly a joy to see someone who has been persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression experience their first Pride. For more about our Pride events and activities visit https://www.mcctoronto.com/events/prideevents/


How We Help – Volunteers in support of our LGBTQ+ Refugee Programs

Aleks Dughman-Manzur – Director of LGBTQ+ Refugee Programs

Our LGBTQ+ Refugee Programs are a huge and beautiful team effort, and
what we do wouldn’t be possible without the dedicated volunteers who put in
many, MANY hours of work to make the transformative work of our programs
happen. Here’s what one of our volunteers has to say about their participation
with the program:

“One of the reasons I have continued to volunteer with the Refugee Programs for over four years, is my selfish desire to meet people from all over the world and learn about them, their cultures and traditions, their way of life. There are so many countries with beautiful peoples and cultures that also have so much ugliness and ignorance.

I have listened to hundreds of stories detailing what brought program participants to us. Growing up in small town Canada in a religious household was difficult for me as a boy who realized he was gay at a very young age. But what I had to deal with pales in comparison to what many of the refugees had to endure.

Sometimes, I am also fortunate to be able to go through the entire journey with a refugee up to their actual hearing and have also sat in some. In all the cases where I had this opportunity, the hearings were successful and the reaction is almost always the same for each person when they realize they can stay……relief, tears, gratitude, beaming faces. But before you see those emotions, you just feel a certain almost magical energy that can’t be seen. It’s beautiful and it’s amazing to be part of this experience.”

Wil Beekman, Orientation and Intake volunteer

To join our volunteer team, contact msinghjennings@mcctoronto.com

(From left to right) Will Beekman, Martha Singh-Jennings – Manager of Refugee Programs, and Kitzito Wilson – Volunteer.

How We Help – Advocacy and Education Coalition

An on-going focus of MCC Toronto’s LGBTQ+ Refugee Programs is to create positive change for LGBTQ+ refugees through education and advocacy effort. 

MCC Toronto is an active member of many associations and coalitions, including the Canadian Rainbow Coalition for Refuge (CRC4R), the SAH Association, Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) – for which our Director Aleks Dughman-Manzur is an Executive Committee member and liaison for the Youth Network. Through our involvement with CRC4R we engage in regular consultations with the federal government. These consultations and related advocacy efforts by CRC4R have led to several exciting developments, including the June 1, 2019 announcement that the Rainbow RAP pilot will become an ongoing partnership. The Rainbow Refugee Assistance Pilot has allowed MCC Toronto and other organizations across Canada to sponsor 80 LGBTQ+ refugee since it began in 2011. Now the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Partnership, will provide partial funding for the sponsorship of up to 50 LGBTQ+ refugees per year. 

“LGBTQ2 refugees have faced unimaginable circumstances just for being who they are. Canada will protect them and help keep them safe. The LGBTQ2 community has been steadfast in their mission in raising awareness of the unique needs of LGBTQ2 refugees among Canadians and helping these most vulnerable people feel safe at long last.”  

The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship at MCC Toronto


How We Help – Sponsorship and Resettlement

MCC Toronto works in collaboration with many Settlement Teams to empower, provide hope to, and support LGBTQ+ refugees in their journey to a new life in Canada.

Through our Private Sponsorship program, these groups of Canadian citizens and permanent residents have a tangible, timely and fundamental impact in the lives of LGBTQ+ people suffering persecution and violence today…

“We were hopeless. We had no place to go or come back. Perhaps this seems to be a cliché for many, but the hope that the Settlement Team has created for us, is truly a life breath and without that, we had no idea how to continue our life. In a world full of inconvenient events, it’s very nice to feel that there is still a group of people who can make the world more beautiful.” –

A refugee being sponsored through MCC Toronto

You too can bring hope to LGBTQ+ refugees – and have a life-changing experience along the way – by forming a Settlement Team and sponsoring through MCC Toronto. Contact info@mcctoronto.com what email? to find out how you can be of help!


How We Help – Peer and One-on-One Supports

MCC Toronto’s LGBTQ+ Refugee Programs have provided direct one-on-one service and peer support to over 3,000 LGBTQ+ refugees since 2007.

MCC Toronto provides a space for LGBTQ+ refugee claimants to meet, navigate the refugee claims process, prepare for refugee hearings and learn more about Canadian society. Over 70% of those who participate with us are successful in their refugee claims – and many of those stay involved as Program volunteers.

“MCC Toronto’s Peer Support was the first LGBTQ+ group I attended when I came to Canada. It has impacted who I have become and broadened my circle of networking with other newcomers. As a refugee I have not only become more knowledgeable about the LGBTQ+ community but I have also gained an utmost respect for others lesbian who left their homes like myself to come to Canada to seek safety. I was able to connect with others through their struggles and personal stories. I have become less judgmental and developed a passion to assist others. I now understand the meaning of Peer: Persons Encouraging Everyone Respectfully. MCC Toronto’s Peer Support has made me a better listener and more compassionate toward others.”

Brendalee Cox

Each week, MCC Toronto hosts information and orientation sessions attended by over 150 LGBTQ+ refugees.


Now More Than Ever – LGBTQ+ Refugees in Crisis

The number of refugees in the world has never been higher, with the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency estimating 70.4 million persons of concern in their mid-year 2018 report, with one person forcibly displaced every two seconds as a result of conflict or persecution. Alongside this disturbing development, as protections for and recognition of LGBTQ2+ Canadians are strengthened and celebrated here in Canada, there has been a rise in anti-LGBTQ+ backlashes around the world. This stark divergence in experiences has led to more and more of our LGBTQ+ family around the world reaching out to Canada for protection and refuge. MCC Toronto is proud and honored to answer that call through our LGBTQ+ Refugee Programs. Read more about our work and how you can help support LGBTQ+ refugees here:
LGBTQ+ Refugee Brochure

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