Monthly Archives: May 2019

How much of your donations go directly to refugees in the Syrian crisis?

WATCH ABOVE: As Canadians respond to the Syrian refugee crisis it’s more important your money goes to the right place and the right people. As Jayme Doll reports, it’s donors like you who play a crucial role in keeping charities accountable.

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  • Rally held at Alberta legislature in support of Syrian refugees

  • NDP and Liberals call for Canada to accept more Syrian refugees

CALGARY – Albertans have rallied in support of Syrian refugees, mourning thousands who’ve died trying to reach safety, and personally donating to the cause. Donors can play a crucial role in keeping charities accountable and making sure the money goes to where it’s needed, by carrying out a few simple checks.

The Red Cross is on the ground in Europe and the Middle East, making an international appeal for contributions. The Alberta government said it will contribute $75,000 to the Canadian Red Cross and match up to another $75,000 in donations made by Albertans to the organization.

READ MORE: Will this photo help people grasp the desperation of Syrian refugees?

But how much of that money goes to refugees themselves?

The Red Cross said out of the funds raised through this appeal, a maximum of five per cent will go to fundraising costs associated with it—the rest will go directly to the people who need it.

“Our field staff right now, working, supporting this crisis, are volunteers,” said Canadian Red Cross’ Jenn McManus. “The money is going to temporary shelter, basic needs like clothing, shelter, and water, and medical assistance for the refugees coming into the region.”

Samaritan’s Purse has six people on the ground running programs and providing aid for refugees in Europe and the Middle East. Its overhead cost tops out at 10 per cent, but that covers everything from marketing to keeping the lights on in its offices. The group said 90 per cent of the money it raises goes straight to the cause.

“Money is going directly to purchase food, relief supplies, to refugees who are moving with literally the clothes on their backs,” said Brent Davis of Samaritan’s Purse.

Both organizations have earned “A plus” in MoneySense Magazine’s annual charity ranking. But there are other charities out there, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning Canadians to do their homework before donating.

“We encourage people to ask the charity: where is the money going? And do they have people on the ground?” said Leah Brownridge of the BBB.

It’s estimated there are 350,000 refugees from Syria alone currently on the move, with a long list of aid organizations trying to help. While there haven’t been any reports of scams in Calgary as of yet, the BBB says unfortunately whenever there is crisis, there will be people trying to take advantage of generosity. The group warns about donating online, especially if you’re receiving what could be spam messages. It advises Canadians check to see if charities are registered with the Canada Revenue Agency.

READ MORE: World mourns drowned Syrian boy Alan Kurdi

With files from Erika Tucker


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Kelowna couple helps save Syrian family

KELOWNA – Thousands of refugees are continuing to flee from Syria to any country that will take them, but an Okanagan couple is wondering why Canada isn’t doing more.

Jim and Wendy Scorgie worked as international teachers in Aleppo in 2001. They recount meeting so many sincere, kind-hearted people, including a fellow teacher named Marwa Saffaf.

When war broke out in Syria, the Scorgies were living in Kelowna. They put out a call on facebook in 2013 to see if any of their friends overseas needed help; Marwa responded.

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From there the Scorgies tried to get Marwa and her three young boys to Canada. They helped her file for a visitor’s visa two separate times, but both applications were denied for no apparent reason.

“We didn’t feel her application was given a fair look,” said Wendy Scorgie.

She and her husband then talked to Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Dan Albas, who gave them some suggestions on federal programming, but says there isn’t much else he can do.

“In all cases we can help people identify programs, pass them on and help the family,” says Albas, “but it’s not the politicians that decide…immigration officers judge a visa application on its merits.”

“It’s as if we know the holocaust is underway and we’re doing nothing about it,” says Jim Scorgie, “If you can’t move quickly at a time like this there’s something wrong with our bureaucracy and decision making that doesn’t allow us to make fast decisions to help people that are dying.”

For two years the Kelowna couple continued to try to help Marwa find a new home, but by May of 2015 the fighting had literally reached her door. The Scorgie’s knew time was running out.

“The war, as she said it, the war was over their heads,” says Wendy, “It just became reality our friends were in the middle of a war zone. Our [old] house was in the middle of a war zone.”

Marwa’s husband illegally fled to Germany in hopes his family would be able to seek refuge status and join him. But the wait was more than a year, so Jim and Wendy jumped into action, paying the way for Marwa and her three young boys to make it to Istanbul.

The Scorgies made the trip to Turkey to meet Marwa and her family when they arrived.

“We get there and we see three little pairs of running shoes and a big pair and we thought ‘they made it, they made it!’,” says Wendy.

Now the next step is to reunite Marwa with her husband in Germany, a process that has started but is still underway.

The Scorgies have started a “Go Fund Me” account called “Rescue Marwa” and they say the response so far has been amazing.

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Off-leash, fenced off area proposed for Chief Whitecap Park

Watch above: Saskatoon city council and the RM of Corman Park want dog owners to leash their pets at Chief Whitecap Park because of recent attacks. Joel Senick finds out what concerns park users have and whether a simple solution can be found.

SASKATOON – A new design plan for Chief Whitecap Park contains a fenced off dog park that is expected to be constructed in 2016. The details were unveiled at a public open house Wednesday by the City of Saskatoon and the Meewasin Valley Authority.

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  • Meewasin, Trans Canada Trail expansion opens to the public

“We just want a safe area both for the non dog walkers and the dog walkers,” said Brad Babyak, the City of Saskatoon’s integrated facilities supervisor.

The fenced off area will be built in two phases, both of which cover roughly 40 acres. When both phases are complete, the area will be roughly 80 acres.

“That’s two times the size of Kinsmen Park,” said Babyak.

“That’s a fairly large, significant area; even though it’s fenced, you probably won’t even realize it’s fenced.”

News of a possible enclosed area was not received well by Wendi Stoeber, who was walking her dogs in the park Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s lovely out here, there’s lots of space for them to run, we have access to the river,” said Stoeber.

“I think it would be a huge loss, but I guess we have to go with what they say,” she added in regards to the proposed fenced area.

The park’s initial master design plan was put forth in 2010. Other changes unveiled Wednesday include an extra proposed parking lot and the relocation of the Meewasin Trail to the top of the bank, instead of the eastern portion of the park.

READ MORE: Who should pay for dog complaint investigations at Chief Whitecap Park

Another change came around the area of law enforcement. The City of Saskatoon’s Animal Control Agency will enforce its by-laws at the site. Previously the RM of Corman Park imposed the law at the park, even though the majority of its users are from Saskatoon.

The plan still needs to be approved by city council and the RM of Corman Park. Much of the project still depends on future capital budget requests.


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Kate Andrews High School football done for 2015

Athletics at Coaldale, Alberta’s Kate Andrews High School, will have a much different feel in 2015.

“Our football program is on a one-year leave of absence,” said Kate Andrews athletic director Kevin Holland.

The Kate Andrews Pride is not fielding a football team this year. After a dismal turnout to the team’s spring camp, the school was forced to make a difficult decision.

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“We met with our parents in April and said, ‘hey let’s get 25 kids out for spring camp’ and it didn’t happen,” said Holland. “We were in the mid-teens and half those kids had never played football before. They were honest with me and they said, ‘I’ll try it, but I’m not sure.’ So we just felt at that time, we just couldn’t go forward.”

The move comes as a shock to many, but a shortage of players is something the school has been dealing with for years.

“A year ago we probably didn’t have enough kids to field a team,” said Holland. “We were in the low twenties, but we had such a talented group of Grade 12 [students] we persevered and got through the year.”

It’s tough news to hear, for the few dedicated students that love the game, including Kate Andrews Grade 12 student Blake Thompson.

“It was heartbreaking, because my senior year I wasn’t going to be able to play football, and it’s one of the sports that I love,” said Thompson.

But the school is letting some of its lions step outside the pride.

“We put the word out to the schools in Lethbridge and it allowed our kids to go play at an existing program,” said Holland.

Four players have changed uniforms this season, including Thompson, who has joined the program at Winston Churchill High School.

“I was super pumped, because I was actually going to play volleyball just to do something over the break, but I heard I could play football, so I was super jacked.”

Kate Andrews plans to revisit its football program’s future later this year.

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Calgary pays tribute to Queen Elizabeth II’s reign with naval ceremony

WATCH ABOVE: In honour of the Queen’s remarkable achievement, the Naval Museum of Alberta held a special ceremony Wednesday, which included the addition of some new items. Global’s Doug Vaessen reports.

CALGARY – Calgarians joined the celebrations happening around the world in honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Wednesday.

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  • She reigns supreme: Queen Elizabeth II surpasses Queen Victoria in length of service

  • Key milestones in Queen Elizabeth II’s life

The Naval Museum of Alberta held a special ceremony, which kicked off with the naval tradition that calls for a tot of rum and a toast to the monarchy. Four new ship models that will be added to the museum’s collection were unveiled, including the last of three aircraft carriers in Canadian history.

“When you look at the name of all of our ships, HMCS Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship, every one of our ships honours Her Majesty,” said Commander Janet McDougall, of HMCS Tecumseh.

HMCS Bonaventure was large enough to land jets. The ship was laid down in 1943 as part of the British Royal Navy just before Capt. Bill Wilson was preparing for D-Day, and later joined him in the Canadian Navy.

“She was well-manned, our sailors and pilots were the best. But it took almost a quarter of the people in the sea-going navy to man it,” said Cpt. Bill Wilson, who is now retired from the Royal Canadian Navy. “It was a big aircraft carrier and we just couldn’t provide all the troops necessary, so she was sold for scrap.”

The HMCS Nipigon, a Cold War destroyer, the Huron A Tribal Class destroyer and the Saguenay were also added to to the museum’s growing collection.

“I have always had a dream…to sail in the navy, but back then women weren’t allowed in the navy, so the first chance I got a chance to sail, I sailed on this ship,” said Lt. Rose Tanchyk, who served on HMCS Nipigon. “We were the first women on a combat ship ever.”

The last time Queen Elizabeth II was in Calgary was in 2005 to mark Alberta’s centennial.

“Every time the Queen has come to Canada she has said that Canada very much feels like a second home,” said Josh Traptow, of the Monarchist League of Alberta.

With files from Global News


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