Around the world, LGBTQI+ people face displacement, persecution, and violence based on their identities. Rainbow Refugee Association of Nova Scotia (RRANS) is the only non-profit in Atlantic Canada dedicated to continuously fundraising to sponsor and resettle LGBTQI+ refugees. It is our honor partnering with RRANS for our July Community Cups Roast, Circles of Care!
Tell us about RRANS - Rainbow Refugee Association of Nova Scotia!
Rainbow Refugee Association was founded in 2011, by a group of community members who wanted to make a difference in the lives of LGBTQI+ refugees. After two years, and $12,000 fundraised, RRANS was able to welcome the first LGBTQI+ refugee sponsored through us to Nova Scotia.
Since then, we have been able to assist almost 30 individuals, couples, and families in resettling in Nova Scotia. We want to continue doing this work, and grow our impact!
What does Rainbow Refugee Association of Nova Scotia provide to their community, and how do you manage to do it?
The Rainbow Refugee Association of Nova Scotia is volunteer-driven, grassroots, registered non-profit society that makes possible LGBTQI+ refugee resettlement, and supports safer communities of belonging, through advocacy, education and sponsorship.
"First and foremost, we are a community-driven organization that works to sponsor, resettle, and support LGBTQI+ refugees. What this typically looks like is providing a year of settlement support and financial support to newly arrived LGBTQI+ newcomers. We let individuals lead their own resettlement process, and tell us what is important to them - including housing, employment, leisure, health, education, and more, and we assist them to move from surviving to thriving.
We do this through the generous support of our community - both financially, and through volunteering. Our work is made possible by the contributions of individuals, community groups and organizations. We have a deep history of being volunteer run and driven, and this continues today, through our Circles of Care volunteer resettlement program.
RRANS provides support to newcomers through a Circle of Care volunteer resettlement model - building up a support network (4 - 5 volunteers) around newly arrived newcomers. Some of the duties volunteers can anticipate as part of these Circles of Care is to assist with orienting newcomers to life in Nova Scotia (e.g. navigating the bus system, setting up a bank account), and building community connections (e.g. volunteering, meeting new people, exploring the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, etc.)"
Is there anything that you wish more people knew about Rainbow Refugee Association of Nova Scotia?
Rainbow Refugee Association of Nova Scotia is the only registered non-profit society dedicated to LGBTQI+ refugee resettlement and support in Atlantic Canada.
LGBTQI+ people are uniquely vulnerable because of systemic, state-enabled homophobia and transphobia. Displaced from their home countries and unable to find safety, your help is needed so that they can build a life and thrive, as who they are.
The average cost of sponsoring an LGBTQI+ and supporting them through their first year of resettlement is $15,000.
Settlement support for LGBTQI+ refugees includes, but is not limited to: housing support, education support, employment support, systems navigation, individual advocacy, orienting to life in Canada, and fostering social and community connections.
RRANS is developing a Circles of Care volunteer resettlement model to train volunteers to feel competent and confident in providing hands-on settlement support, while building a community circle of support and care around newly arrived LGBTQI+ refugees.
Tell us more about Rainbow Refugee Association of Nova Scotia advocacy work!
“I realize these are EXTREMELY jargon-y however, and am happy to break down/ explain any of them.” - Rhiannon Makohoniuk, Executive Director at RRANS.
RRANS works with a coalition of LGBTQI+ refugee serving organizations (the Rainbow Coalition for Refuge), including Rainbow Railroad, Capital Rainbow Refuge, AGIR Montreal, Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, End of the Rainbow Foundation, and Rainbow Refugee Society Vancouver. This coalition advocates for better rights, pathways to resettlement, and supports for LGBTQI+ newcomers in Canada, or looking to resettle in Canada.
This year, some of the advocacy priorities for this coalition include:
- Ensuring all Rainbow Refugee Assisted Partnership (Rainbow RAP) applicants submitted on or before December 31, 2021, be expedited for processing and resettled by December 31 2022.
- Creating a task force including representation from IRCC, IOM, provincial stakeholders and the coalition to ensure that all refugees can travel and settle with ID that aligns with their gender.
- Restarting the pilot project to resettle LGBTQI+ refugees in Kenya, working with the coalition as a referring partner.
- Expanding the coverage of mental health through the Interim Federal Health Program from 1 years to 3 years.
- Following through with the creation of an independent civilian oversight committee for the CBSA and ensure representation from RC4R including those with lived experience as lgbtq newcomers