Hundreds of Canadian Lawyers Donate Time to Support Refugee Sponsorships

October 2, 2015



OTTAWA – The University of Ottawa Refugee Hub is pleased to announce the national launch of the Refugee Sponsorship Support Program (SSP). This new initiative brings together pro-bono lawyers, law students, and sponsorship experts to offer support to Canadians seeking to sponsor refugees.


The program is supported by the Canadian Bar Association, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, the uOttawa Human Rights Research and Education Centre, and Lifeline Syria. It aims to help more Canadians help more refugees, faster, by providing assistance with navigating the complex sponsorship process.


The Refugee Sponsorship Support Program’s website is available at:


Jennifer Bond, Faculty Director of the Refugee Hub, calls the SSP a “collaborative response to a heartbreaking human tragedy.”


“Bringing Canadians together to make a real difference is empowering,” Bond says. “This project is about ordinary people working together to do extraordinary things. In the past two weeks hundreds of lawyers have offered to volunteer their time – the response has been extraordinary.”


Elizabeth McWeeny, Member of the Order of Canada and an expert with over 35 years of experience in refugee resettlement, describes the SSP as “an exciting and innovative way to help build capacity for Canadians to respond to the Syrian crisis. Sponsoring refugees is an amazing experience that saves lives, gives the gift of hope to people who are lost in despair and changes us forever as individuals and as a nation.”


The Refugee Sponsorship Support Program launched in Ottawa at the Mayor’s Public Forum on Syrian Refugee Sponsorship on October 1, 2015 at Ottawa City Hall. Fifty volunteer lawyers met with over 450 members of the public during a special SSP-clinic. The program will be available to match lawyers with sponsoring groups across the country by early November. Sponsors requiring immediate assistance outside of the Ottawa area may also visit for a list of lawyers willing to provide pro-bono legal advice until the matching program reaches their area.


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The world is facing an unprecedented and horrific refugee crisis. The Refugee Sponsorship Support Program (SSP) brings together pro-bono lawyers, law students and sponsorship experts to offer direct support to Canadians seeking to sponsor Syrian refugees. It will provide a desperately needed service to the thousands of Canadians who are mobilizing in response.


The SSP has three primary components:


  • A matching program, which provides sponsor groups with direct support from a probono lawyer and law students
  • A training program, which trains lawyers and law students on the completion of sponsorships, and provides ongoing support for their work through sponsorship experts
  • A public information program, which provides Canadians with easy-to-understand information regarding sponsorships