TORONTO — On January 27, the AGBU Young Professionals of Toronto (YP Toronto) organized a job fair for more than 200 Syrian-Armenian refugees at the AGBU Centre in Toronto. Canada has been in the spotlight over the past few months with the resettlement of over 20,000 refugees from Syria, among them many Armenians. The Armenian community in Canada, most notably those in Toronto and Montreal, have quickly mobilized resources to sponsor hundreds of Armenian families. Sponsorship of refugees entails commitments from temporary housing to providing basic assistance with paperwork, job searches and a range of settlement issues.
The coordinated efforts of Canadian Armenians were positively and widely covered in local and international media. Since the unfolding of the crisis in Syria, YP Toronto has organized a number of fundraising activiti
es and provided support to refugees settling in Canada. Over the past three years, it has dedicated its annual Christmas fundraiser to helping Syrian Armenians. In January, YP Toronto, in partnership with the AGBU Sports and Youth Committee, raised thousands of dollars for this cause.
Reflecting on the ongoing crisis in Syria, YP Toronto chair Mihran Egavian noted that “the hardships inflicted upon so many people are of historical proportions. There is a real urgency for the community to come together and respond. This is our moment of humanity and solidarity and YP Toronto, like other Armenian groups, is determined to do its part.”
YP Toronto was quick in identifying the resources it could make available to Syrian Armenians already in Canada. Utilizing its professional networks and in cooperation with a number of Toronto-based organizations, YP Toronto helped organize the first in a series of job fairs, which attracted a number of potential agencies and employers. These initiatives are designed not only to connect prospective jobseekers with employers but also to create an intimate, informal space where refugees, through small on-site workshops, can receive practical advice on resumes, cover letters and the effective use of professional networking sites. Ancillary services, such as banking advice and opening new accounts, are also provided.
Christine Kavazanjian, YP Toronto treasurer and branch manager with one of Canada’s largest banks, explained that “many newcomers lack basic understanding of Canadian banking system. It is amazing to see what basic yet critical support YPs can provide – the kind of resources we otherwise may have taken for granted.”