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LGBT+ refugees charity picnic sells out seats

A picnic for charity has sold out all of its seats, sending money to help settle LGBT+ refugees in Canada.

Blaine Wilkins, an organizer of the picnic and worker for ROAR Refugees, says they’ve had a great year fundraising thus far.

“We’ve been very fortunate, a couple of really good fundraisers [finished] earlier this year. So far this year, we probably raised 15-18 thousand dollars,” said Wilkins. “So yeah, we’re well on our way to resettling another person.”

Nanaimo’s German Hall Lawn picnic has completely sold out. Picnic-goers are encouraged to ‘dress to the nines’ and have a good time. The previous picnic was held in 2019. It’ll start at 5pm. Tables will be set out, and a menu with vegetarian and other options will be provided.

“Usually we don’t have children at the event, but we have a liquor license because we are selling wine. I don’t believe that prevents us from hosting people under eighteen,” said Wilkins when asked if children could attend. “That’s a good question, I don’t really know the answer to.”[ try to confirm the rule or leave out the quote] 

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The money from it will go to help settle LGBT+ refugees in Canada, which Wilkins says is a lot more expensive than a plane ticket.

“We have to bring them here, we have to sponsor some place for them to live for a year. You know and everybody knows how the rents are here. It’s a lot of money, yeah.”

It can take over $30k per year to bring one refugee. 

“[We have to] not only help the newcomer learn to navigate Canadian culture, but also to fit in to the community. Basically, we have them for a year. Twelve months in which to kind of help them acclimatize and integrate. After the year is out they’re basically on their own, they’re expected to  have had us equip them to continue.”

Refugees come from all over the world, through a waiting list that is offered to organizations like ROAR of people who’re looking to get out of their various countries. The list is full of contacts from places like Syria, Lebanon, and places in Africa.

“In refugee camps in Africa, they’re in dire straits there and so LGBT+ people, a lot of times they’re ostracized by their own families which is really really sad,” said Wilkins. “They’re discriminated against every day in these camps and so on, so it’s an urgent situation. We wish we could speed up the process, and unfortunately it’s just taking a long long time to process these.”

Just recently, one of ROAR’s refugees got their Canadian citizenship, a feat which Wilkins says they’re very proud of.

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