Sanctuary Discernment Notes

The Sanctuary Coalition of Kitchener-Waterloo, April 2013

Outcome Goal:

How to have a safe outcome for an individual or family facing deportation.


Sanctuary may be sought by an individual or family who are at risk of being deported to an unsafe country where they may face persecution, torture or death.

Types of Sanctuary:

  • Formal Sanctuary (Sanctuary offered within a church)
    • A public, media focused scenario which draws national attention
    • Individual/family must remain in the church
  • Informal Sanctuary (Sanctuary offered outside of a church)
    • A network of church and community support provides moral, emotional and physical support
    • Individual/family resides in an undisclosed location
    • Individual/family is more vulnerable to arrest
  • Formal Sanctuary Considerations
    • Church responsibilities:
      • living space within a church,
      • health care, food, insurance
      • congregational support (moral and financial)
      • community support
    • Currently people remain in Sanctuary for 2-3 years.
  • Informal Sanctuary Considerations
    • Church responsibilities
      • Safe housing
      • Employment assistance
      • Health care
      • Schooling
      • Financial support
      • Emotional support
      • Congregational support

The Discernment Process:

  • Have a credible refugee association look at the file (MCRS)
  • Contact Amnesty international for country of origin review
  • Obtain a Refugee lawyer
  • Obtain support from a local MP

Is Sanctuary For You?

  • Sanctuary is not an option for everyone but everyone can support Sanctuary efforts
  • It is the last option for the most serious of cases
  • Sanctuary seekers and providers must consider length of process and emotional toll on all involved – family, church and community supporters