About Us


We are a group of individuals who were moved by the images of the tremendous challenges facing Syrian refugees and decided to take action. Some of us have stories of refugee experiences in our families, some of us are parents, and all of us are motivated by a deeply Canadian value: refugees welcome. Read our personal stories of what brought us together. Come back as we update this page with new stories.

Amanda Pautler and Chris Antonik:

I love this country, and identify deeply with Canadian values.  But it’s so easy to forget what a complete accident of birth it is that my family is living here in Toronto instead of so many places around the world where families just like mine are affected by conflict.  That is, until Alan Kurdi.  Like so many of us, we were jarred by the death of this child, along with his brother, mother and  12 other refugees, who tried in desperation to cross the Mediterranean in an inflatable boat.  The Canadian connection to their particular story was very difficult to learn in the days that followed the tragedy.

My husband and I had a long talk about what we could do to help.  Chris’ own father came to Canada as a refugee following WWII.  We responded to a simple message from a stranger on a neighbourhood newsletter:  who wants to help?  What can we do?  This is how a group of strangers came together to sponsor a Syrian refugee family to settle in Canada.  The outpouring of support from this incredible community – Toronto the Good – and our family, friends and networks across the country and even further afield has been earth-shakingly inspirational.  This is the Canada that I know and love.


Jennifer McGregor and Daniel Ebanks:

The day the photo of Alan Kurdi made the news, both of us were shaken terribly. Our little boy is the same age as Alan, his brother, who also drowned, is the same age as our daughter. It hit us both that it is only by luck that we are here in Canada and not there, struggling to get our children to a safe place. We are the same, a parent’s love for their children extends across all borders. It was a call to action for us, and we have been working hard since early September to do everything we can to help another family provide a safe home for their children.


Barb and Richard Keshen:

The images being shown in the news moved us to get involved in sponsoring a Syrian family. What also prompted to us to take direct practical action was remembering that we were the children of immigrants – Barb is a first generation Canadian and Richard is a second generation Canadian. Our relatives came to this country and re-built their lives so we could have the opportunities we have been given, therefore it seems fitting that we assist other newcomers to Canada. As well, it was encouraging to be reminded that Canada and individual Canadians have done this before with the Vietnamese boat people and now it is our turn to step up and demonstrate the same compassionate action.


Monique Ganon:

My mother was born in Belgium, the only child to Jewish parents, before the outbreak of World War 2. Because it was unsafe to be Jewish at the time, she and other children were taken in by another family and raised as Catholic. She was the only one to evade capture from the Nazis in that household. My mother is gone now but I often recall how she said that so few were willing to help. “People did nothing,” she would say. This is the reason my family and I want to help bring a Syrian family to safety, simply to do something.


Richard McLellan:

Unsure that I have an interesting or unique story.  I am just terribly distressed that so many people have been forced from their homes, their jobs, their families, their country and must take refuge in a strange land with a foreign language and climate.  Starting over again from scratch with nothing is a terribly hard thing to do, even more so if everything around you is strange, and ever more so if you have had to flee the trauma of war.  Despite the fact that my life is upside down at the moment since my partner of 32 years died, and despite the fact that I am still grieving heavily, I am grateful to live in a peaceful land, and have my friends and family.  I feel compelled to share my good fortune and help at least one family in a concrete way.

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