This webpage is a resource to help residents support the Afghan resettlement in meaningful ways, locally and beyond. We will update it regularly with new resources and reliable and accurate information as it becomes available.

Please exhaust the information here before connecting directly with local organizations supporting the resettlement – they are extremely busy focusing on supporting our newest neighbours. Please also respect the privacy and transition of affected families by staying away from local resettlement sites unless invited.

What Do We Know So Far?

The situation in Afghanistan is evolving quickly. The Government of Canada is working to resettle around 40,000 Afghans to Canada through two programs – one for those who have assisted Canada and one for other vulnerable Afghans.

Information on the number of people who have arrived in Canada can be found on the Government of Canada Portal. Some of those people will arrive in Waterloo Region as either government assisted refugees or via private sponsorship - it is not yet known how many in total. This is in addition to refugees from other countries that arrive in the Region on an ongoing basis.

As of 18 Jan 2021, Canada welcomed 7,140 refugees from Afghanistan, including 255 government assisted and privately sponsored refugees reported to have settled in Waterloo Region. Around 80 Afghan and other refugees are staying in temporary accommodation in Cambridge and Waterloo while seeking permanent housing. Children are being registered in school. Mennonite Central Committee has opened intake for private sponsorship groups.

Creation of a Refugee Task Force to Support Refugee Resettlement Efforts
As the federal government works towards the resettlement of 40,000 refugees from Afghanistan, the Immigration Partnership Council (IPC) launched a Refugee Task Force to provide strategic and operational oversight to resettlement efforts in Waterloo Region. It’s first meeting took place on November 29. The Task Force is chaired by IPC members from the Region of Waterloo and the KW Multicultural Centre. Inaugural members include senior leaders from Waterloo Region’s re/settlement, housing, health and education sectors in alignment with emergent initial needs, as well as leaders focused on community welcome and integration.
Senior leaders were provided an overview of the Afghan resettlement initiative and its likely local impact, followed by discussion of some of the key challenges to be addressed in various sectors, including affordable housing availability, primary care attachment and school enrolment for children. So far, around 200 Afghans have arrived in the region, about 60% of whom have moved to their first homes while the remainder are living in temporary accommodation sites.
The Task Force will meet on a bi-weekly basis to monitor progress in local arrivals, assess needs as they evolve and put solutions in place so that refugee families arriving from Afghanistan and elsewhere have the best start possible in the region. More information.

How is Waterloo Region Supporting the Afghan Resettlement?

Reception House Waterloo Region provides primary resettlement support for all government assisted refugees in Waterloo Region: Temporary residence, orientation, needs assessment, employment support, social integration programs, youth services and more. Many other settlement and community services will also provide support such as Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre (KWMC) and YMCA Immigrant Services.

How Can Community Members, Families and Organizations Help?

Waterloo Region has a long story of welcoming refugees. We know many people in Waterloo Region want to support this effort, as they have in the past.

There are many ways to help:

  1. Learn about Canada’s programs for vulnerable Afghans
  2. Provide affordable housing. Landlords and property managers who can provide affordable and flexible housing solutions for families of different sizes in 1-4 bedroom units should please reply here.
  3. Provide primary care. Members of the medical community who can take on new clients should please reply here.
  4. Make monetary donations to the Immigration Partnership Fund or Reception House to support resettlement initiatives for Afghans and other refugees.
  5. Donate clothing and other items via Thrift on Kent or ReStore Habitat For Humanity Waterloo Region. Warm outdoor and indoor winter clothing is a particular need at the moment.
  6. Sponsor Afghan refugees and support family reunification efforts. In Canada, there are various ways to privately sponsor refugees. Click here to learn more on the Government of Canada’s website. You can connect with local sponsorship agreement holders like Mennonite Central Committee Ontario, Canadian Lutheran World Relief or others to learn more about the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program.
  7. Be a welcoming and inclusive community member. Arriving in a new community having fled war and crisis can be extremely stressful. Being friendly and welcoming to all goes a long way to making our newest residents feel good as they get to know their new community, make friends and start their new life. 
  8. Volunteer to support area resettlement programs. Please visit the Volunteer Waterloo Region portal for more information. Volunteer needs are being assessed and volunteers will be contacted as needs are determined. Volunteering through this pathway helps community organizations engage volunteers in meaningful ways.