The tables were packed at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Westville on Shrove Tuesday. The event was observed with stacks and stacks of pancakes, with beans and sausages – but Tuesday’s event was inspired by more than just its traditional association with the events of the Bible.
This year, the pancake meal was served with the purpose of raising funds for a particular goal: integrating a new family into the community of Westville. The initiative is the brainchild of members of Warm Hearts, a group of people from Westville and the area who have organized to assist refugees into communities in Pictou County.
“We have a refugee family we’re looking to bring into the Westville area, and have been working with them since a year ago,” said Westville town councillor Lennie White, a member of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church’s refugee mission.
White said the process of identifying, and helping a family get ready to move to Pictou County started two years ago, in January 2016. The Christian family they are looking to bring to Pictou County hails from war-torn Mosul, Iraq.
The family currently is in Turkey, waiting for clearance to come to Canada. In the meantime, parishioners at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church are fundraising to be able to provide support to them.
Shrove Tuesday was one of many fundraisers – and one of many more planned for the coming months.
White said that, presently, there’s no way of being certain of exactly when the family will arrive in the Westville area – a definitive timeline is not in place. The matter of bringing them in is a complicated one and the family is still waiting on visas in Turkey.
“We are hopeful the family will be coming in the next six to eight months,” White said.
An important step in the process has been tame, White noted, since the family has been approved as refugees by the UN High Commission. The family was called to the Canadian embassy in Turkey, where they are staying and looking to get their application processed, to receive that news.
The family got approval after a gauntlet of “thorough interviews, medical checks and background checks,” said White.
Allan Murray, one of the parishioners associated with the process, said he has been in touch with a member of the family they hope to bring to Pictou County, and that, “they’re in England, and are thrilled to see what has been going on.”
“What has to be done is basically bureaucracy. Just a lot of checks in the system; background checks, security checks – that kind of thing,” said Murray.
Murray, who was helping out with White and several other parishioners in the kitchen, was impressed with the turnout.