Simplify your giving experience with our new e-transfer option!

Donate to FCJ Refugee Centre via e-TransferSending support to the FCJ Refugee Centre has never been easier.

Now you can simply e-transfer your donation to finance@fcjrefugeecentre.org, and your contribution will go directly towards empowering uprooted individuals and making a lasting impact.

Skip the paperwork, avoid the hassle—donate with ease!

Thank you for choosing the convenient way to make a difference.

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Toronto Public Health launches new community clinics for school-aged student vaccinations

Toronto Public Health (TPH) has just opened new community vaccination clinics to help school-aged children catch up on their routine vaccinations. In a press release, TPH highlighted that “keeping up to date with vaccinations is essential in maintaining high immunization coverage and effectively preventing and controlling various diseases.”

The community clinics, opened since Friday, January 19, will offer vaccines under:

  • The Province of Ontario’s Immunization of School Pupils Act (ISPA). Under the ISPA, students are required to be vaccinated against nine vaccine-preventable diseases* or have a valid exemption to avoid suspension from school. More information is available on the City’s Report Student Vaccination webpage.
  • The Student Immunization Program (SIP). TPH hosts school-based clinics during school hours to students who attend the school. These clinics are not open to the public. Parental consent is required. More information is available on the City’s School Immunization Program webpage.

Accessible locations

Clinics are situated in accessible locations, requiring appointments booked on the City’s TPH Appointment Booking System webpage. Operating on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 to 6:30 p.m., these clinics are available throughout the school year at three key locations:

  • Etobicoke Civic Centre, 399 The West Mall
  • Scarborough Civic Centre, 150 Borough Dr.
  • North York Civic Centre, 5100 Yonge St.

In the coming weeks, clinic offerings will expand to include weekends and Professional Activity (PA) days for the purpose of accessibility and convenience.

With the support of local school boards, TPH will bring SIP vaccines directly into high schools with low vaccination rates later in January. When clinics are confirmed, more information will be available on the City’s School Immunization Program webpage.

To encourage an increase in vaccination, TPH has resumed issuing non-compliance suspension orders under the ISPA for the 2023-24 school year. This will allow TPH to focus on assessing school vaccine records to ensure compliance and safety.

Notifications

Parents and guardians will receive advance notice of pending vaccination requirements before suspension orders are issued by TPH. Parents and guardians will then have 15 school days from receiving the suspension order to either obtain the necessary vaccines or submit a valid exemption. If the student remains non-compliant with vaccination requirements after 15 days, suspension will be implemented.

Parents and guardians can visit one of TPH’s community clinics or their healthcare provider to receive routine immunizations and ensure ISPA compliance. Once students have received their vaccines, parents and guardians are asked to enter the record into the Immunization Connect Ontario (ICON) webpage, a secure online provincial system that tracks and reports a student’s immunizations to TPH. ICON can then generate an electronic vaccination card so parents and guardians have the student’s complete vaccination record.

Starting on Thursday, January 25, clinics will also offer Novavax and pediatric COVID-19 vaccines to children five years of age and under. TPH is accepting appointments on the TPH booking website as of January 23.


* Measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, meningococcal, pertussis (whooping cough), varicella (chickenpox: only applies to students born on or after 2010). Hepatitis b and human papillomavirus are strongly recommended but are not required.

Diana Gallego elected President of the Canadian Council for Refugees

Press release from the Canadian Council for Refugees:

Diana Gallego

Diana Gallego

The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) is pleased to announce that Diana Gallego was elected President at its Annual General Meeting on November 18th 2023. Diana has been a member of the CCR Executive Committee since last year, and comes from FCJ Refugee Centre in Toronto, where she serves as Senior Director. Diana is proudly the first Amina Malko Fund recipient to become CCR President.

Jenny Jeanes was re-elected for her second term as Vice-President, representing Action Réfugiés Montréal.

“As President of the CCR for the 2024-2025 period, I am looking forward to upholding our organization’s mission of advocating for social justice and transformation by challenging racism, colonialism and intersecting oppressions.” – said Diana Gallego. “Along with the rest of the CCR team, we hope to bring about attention and change to key issues such as the Safe Third Country Agreement, the regularization program, and keeping Canada as a welcoming country for refugees and migrants. I extend my thanks to all members and supporters of the CCR for the trust you have placed in me, and I look forward to beginning this journey with you all.

Diana Gallego takes over from Aleks Dughman-Manzur, who served as President from the end of 2021, and will continue on the Executive as Past President.

Biographical notes

Diana Gallego is a Colombian-trained lawyer, with experience in advocacy, human rights and social justice. In 2002, Diana was forced to flee Colombia with her husband and son. This experience shaped a new commitment and led her into working with immigrants and refugees. Diana graduated in Community Work from George Brown College in Toronto. She is a part time professor in the Centre for Community Services at George Brown College. Diana Joined the FCJ Refugee Centre in 2015 and is now its Senior Director.

Within the CCR, she also serves on the Inland Protection steering committees of the CCR, where the social and economic integration of refugees and family reunification are two of the main focuses of her advocacy. Diana has been part of the Canadian Council for Refugees for the last 17 years and is the first Amina Malko Fund recipient to become CCR President.

Holiday Toys and Baskets Drive: Thank You!

Our traditional holiday toys and baskets distribution started! Thank you to everyone who donated and contributed to making our food drive a big success. Your support has made this holiday season special for 110 families in need.

A special acknowledgment to the Toronto Star Children’s Charities Santa Claus Fund for the gift boxes, to CP24 CHUM Christmas Wish for their toy donations, to the United Steel Workers for the food baskets, to Luciano’s NoFrills for their help, and to all the private donors from the community.

Thank you!

“A community builder”: Francisco Rico-Martínez receives posthumous Guthrie Award in a night to remember

“He was a community builder. He believed we can’t do the work we do without being in solidarity and building community with a human rights lens.” This is how Loly Rico, the Executive Director of FCJ Refugee Centre, described her husband, the late Francisco Rico-Martínez, during the ceremony of the 2023 Guthrie Award, presented posthumously this Wednesday by The Law Foundation of Ontario to the man who, always along with Loly herself, was Co-Director and soul of the FCJ Refugee Centre for 30 years, until his death in 2021.

“The name Francisco Rico-Martínez is synonymous with the rights of refugees,” said Linda Rothstein, the Foundation’s Board Chair, when the award was announced. “He devoted his life to ‘walking with uprooted people’ (the moto of the FCJ Refugee Centre), and used his passionate voice and empathy to inspire a more just, fair, and humane immigration system.” The Guthrie Award, the Law Foundation’s signature award, recognizes exceptional access to justice champions.

It was an inspiring and emotional evening for everyone attending the award ceremony, more than a hundred people including family, colleagues, friends, community members… All of them gathered to celebrate the life and legacy of Francisco.

Loly Rico, Executive Director of the FCJ Refugee Centre, with her daughter, Ana, at the ceremony of the 2023 Guthrie Awards, in Toronto.
Loly Rico, Executive Director of the FCJ Refugee Centre, with her daughter, Ana, at the ceremony of the 2023 Guthrie Award.

Loly Rico received the award on behalf of Francisco, accompanied by their daughter: “With Francisco, what you saw was what you got. He was the kind of person who truly walked the talk,” she said. “He believed that each person not only deserves a dignified life, but can also give a contribution to society. For some of my colleagues he became a mentor, a confidante, a friend, a teacher. Also, he was a person that always was pushing to the maximum. He believed that we could do more than an extra mile. At the same time, he was a community builder. He believed we can’t do the work we do without being in solidarity and building community with a human rights lens”, she added.

“Francisco believed that each person not only deserves a dignified life, but can also give a contribution to society”

In her speech, Loly honoured Franciso by reading the last letter he wrote to join the Department of Imaginary Affairs Canada. In this letter, Loly said, Francisco shared his vision for “a just world where we can all fulfill our dreams and live in dignity,” envisioning an utopian future for Canada as “a rainbow made of all colours of humanity living together”. “I had dedicated my whole life in Canada to influence the creation of policies, programs, and services for the integration on new Canadians, reinventing home and the desire of belonging under the concept of diverse persons, one community. I want to share my passion for what I do. My life’s work is for the rights and protection of refugees and precarious migrants in Canada or wherever they are,” Francisco wrote.

Sister Lois Anne Bordowitz and Sharry Aiken, at the ceremony of the 2023 Guthrie Awards, in Toronto.
Sister Lois Anne Bordowitz and Sharry Aiken, at the ceremony of the 2023 Guthrie Award, in Toronto.

Francisco was also remembered by Sharry Aiken, President of FCJ Refugee Centre’s Board of Directors, Associate Professor at Queen’s University, Faculty of Law, and who supported Francisco’s nomination. “Through both his long tenure as Co-Director of the FCJ Refugee Centre, as president of CCR and his extensive pro bono contributions as a volunteer and activist, Francisco truly embodied the values the Guthrie award aims to recognize,” she said.

“As an advocate for refugees and other uprooted people, his life’s work was centrally focused on promoting access to justice and justice itself for the most marginalized and vulnerable residents of our province. His life and career embodied a deep and abiding commitment to service and making the world a better, more just place for everyone,” Aiken added.

Aiken highlighted that Francisco “organized rallies, spearheaded community fundraising drives, engaged in incisive policy advocacy and had a truly impressive record of finding a way around any legal roadblock. Through op eds in print media and countless appearances in news and public affairs programs, Francisco was a leading voice for refugee and migrant rights in Canada.”

“Francisco was also unfailingly kind, generous and compassionate – with clients, professional colleagues, friends and even his adversaries in government”

Francisco, Aiken said, “was also unfailingly kind, generous and compassionate – with clients, professional colleagues, friends and even his adversaries in government. That a few of those adversaries attended his funeral mass at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church speaks volumes.”

The life of Francisco was also honoured and remembered by FCJ Sister Lois Anne Bordowitz, former President of FCJ Refugee Centre’s Board of Directors. Sr. Lois Anne joined the Centre in 1996, working with Francisco, and she still volunteers in the office, and at the Toronto Immigration Holding Centre.

“One of the things that impressed me about Francisco was that he walked the talk when it came to his respect for women. He was always the Co-Director with his wife Loly, which had many implications, including equal salaries. He promoted many programs for women at the FCJ Refugee Centre over the last 30 years,” she said.

“Francisco was a great believer in the potential of a person and was able to help bring it about,” Sister Lois Anne remarked. “I will always remember him as a great friend and passionate advocate, who vowed to keep the door open for refugees,” she added.

Our Fall 2023 Newsletter is ready!

Our Fall 2023 Newsletter is ready! Check it out to find all the information about the prestigious Guthrie Award received posthumously by our beloved co-director Francisco Rico-Martínez; the participation of the FCJ Youth Network at the CCR Youth Action Gathering; an update of the services we provide in our primary health clinic; the Open House in which we opened our doors to the community after all the renovations we’ve been doing; the success of Ride for Refuge, our biggest fundraising event of the year (thank you!); the appointment of FCJ Refugee Centre’s Senior Director, Diana Gallego, as President of the Canadian Council for Refugees, and much more!

Newsletter Fall 2023

Celebrating Together: Empower Families with Holiday Dinners

Holiday Food DriveThis holiday season, let’s unite as a community to empower families with the joy of a festive dinner and a heartwarming celebration.

Your contribution to our Holiday Food Drive isn’t just a donation; it’s an investment in creating meaningful holiday experiences for our neighbours in need.

As we come together to make this holiday season brighter for our community, we invite you to join us in person this weekend in Toronto, in front of NoFrills:

  • Where: Luciano’s NoFrills, 243 Alberta Ave, Toronto, ON M6C 3X4
  • When: December 2nd and 3rd, 10am to 2pm

Our dedicated team will be there, ready to accept your generous donations and share the spirit of giving.

Whether it’s festive non-perishable items or a contribution towards empowering families with holiday dinners, your support will directly impact the lives of those in need.



Enlarge map

Transformative Impact

  • Enabling Holiday Dinners: Your support ensures that every family in our community has the opportunity to savour a special holiday dinner.
  • Empowering with Food Baskets: Your donation goes towards assembling holiday food baskets, empowering families to partake in the seasonal celebrations with dignity. Making a donation online or donating a gift card allows us to better tailor each household’s needs.

Ways to Make a Difference:

  • A $100 donation empowers a family with a festive holiday dinner.
  • Opt for a $50 NoFrills gift card instead
  • Drop off festive non-perishable food items at our community collection points.
  • Share the spirit of celebration – spread the word about our Holiday Food. Drive with your friends and neighbours.

Your commitment helps create a holiday season filled with joy, unity, and shared celebrations. Thank you for being an essential part of making this festive time special for everyone in our community. We will see you there!

You can’t make it? No problem! You can also donate here:

This Giving Tuesday, Give the Gift of Shelter

As we approach this year’s Giving Tuesday, we find ourselves reflecting on the challenges faced by vulnerable communities, especially the recent housing crisis in Toronto. The FCJ Refugee Centre has been at the forefront of providing settlement and immigration support to those in need, and now, more than ever, they require your help.

Over the past couple of months, the housing crisis in Toronto has intensified, leaving many women without a safe place to call home. We are reaching out to you today to ask for your support in a unique and impactful way – by giving the gift of shelter.

This Giving Tuesday campaign aims to match the cost of providing room for a woman in Toronto. The reality is that many of these women have fled, seeking safety and a chance for a better life. Your donation can directly contribute to providing them with a room, ensuring they have a secure space to rebuild their lives.

By contributing to this campaign, you are not just providing a physical space; you are offering hope, security, and the opportunity for a fresh start. The FCJ Refugee Centre works tirelessly to offer comprehensive support, including legal information, counseling, and community integration programs.

Here’s how you can make a difference:

  • Donate: Visit our donation page and contribute the cost of a room for a woman in Toronto.
  • Spread the Word: Share our campaign on social media and encourage your friends and family to join the cause. Use the hashtag #RoomForHope and #GivingTuesday to amplify our message.
  • Volunteer: If you have the time and skills, consider volunteering with the FCJ Refugee Centre. Your direct involvement can make a lasting impact on the lives of those in need.

This Giving Tuesday, let’s come together as a community to support our neighbors who are facing the challenges of displacement. Your generosity can truly make a difference and provide a brighter future for these women.

Donate

FCJ late Co-Director Francisco Rico-Martínez, named 2023 Guthrie Award recipient

Francisco Rico-Martínez

Francisco Rico-Martínez

The Law Foundation of Ontario announced today that the late Co-Director and Co-Founder of the FCJ Refugee Centre Francisco Rico-Martínez is the posthumous recipient of the 2023 Guthrie Award, the Foundation’s signature award to recognize exceptional access to justice champions.

It is with great pride and a profound sense of appreciation that FCJ Refugee Centre share this special announcement.

Francisco’s unwavering dedication to the cause of access to justice leaves a lasting mark on our organization and the lives of countless individuals. As we reflect on this remarkable moment, we draw ongoing inspiration from his commitment to justice for all.

The Guthrie Award stands as a testament to his extraordinary legacy, and we seize this moment to celebrate and honor the man who champions access to justice with heart, passion, and vision.

Join FCJ Refugee Centre in paying tribute to Francisco Rico-Martínez. His legacy lives on through the work we perform each day. Together, we ensure his mission endures, continuing to make a profound difference in the lives of those who need it.

“A passionate voice”

“The name Francisco Rico-Martínez is synonymous with the rights of refugees,” says Linda Rothstein, the Foundation’s Board Chair. “He devoted his life to ‘walking with uprooted people’ and used his passionate voice and empathy to inspire a more just, fair, and humane immigration system.”

Francisco was the Co-Director of the FCJ Refugee Centre, the organization he founded and ran with his spouse, Loly Rico. FCJ provides advice, counsel, and support to refugees, migrant workers, survivors of human trafficking, and others at-risk related to their claim or immigration status. FCJ is also a leading public legal educator and advocate on refugee and immigration policies and issues.

“Francisco was the greatest advocate our community could imagine,” shared Diana Gallego, FCJ Senior Director and who nominated Francisco for the Guthrie Award. “There is not a single person who was not touched by his grace, encouragement, and nurturing. He was a great champion for the rights of the marginalized, the forgotten, the ignored. Francisco worked every day to ensure no one would be left without hope or would find a closed door. We continue this fight for justice in his memory, inspired, and guided by his life’s work.”

A refugee

Francisco was born and raised in El Salvador. There he earned his Juris Doctor and worked as a lawyer, law professor, writer, political analyst, and human rights advocate. He was an investigator for the archbishop office of San Salvador and a refugee issues advisor for the Jesuit Refugee Service.

Due to his activism, Francisco was a target of civil violence. He, Loly, and their children were forced to flee El Salvador during the civil war. They arrived in Canada as refugees in 1990. They did not speak English and their education credentials were not recognized. A year later, with the support of the Sisters, Faithful Companions of Jesus, Francisco and Loly founded a project that would become the FCJ Refugee Centre. They ran FCJ together for almost 30 years before his death in August 2021 at the age of 63 from cancer. Loly continues to serve as FCJ’s Executive Director.

“Francisco’s life and career embodied a deep and abiding commitment to service and making the world a better, more just place for everyone,” shared Sharry Aiken, Associate Professor, Queen’s University, Faculty of Law, who supported Francisco’s nomination. “He organized rallies, spearheaded community fundraising drives, engaged in incisive policy advocacy, and had a truly impressive record of finding a way around any legal roadblock. Through op eds in print media and countless appearances in news and public affairs programs, Francisco was a leading voice for refugee and migrant rights in Canada.”

Francisco was awarded a Community Leadership in Justice Fellowship from The Law Foundation of Ontario. Through it he conducted research on the basis and implications of the ‘principal applicant’ approach of Canada’s immigration and refugee law, policy, procedures, and programs, and he delivered faculty and student lectures on the ‘‘uprooted people’ perspective of immigration.

Refugee Help in Refugee Hands

“When Maytree began our focus on immigration and refugee issues, we supported an initiative Francisco developed called Refugee Help in Refugee Hands,” shared Elizabeth McIsaac, President, Maytree, who supported Francisco’s nomination. “As a refugee advocate with lived experience, he understood the need to empower refugees with the tools they need to claim their rights and access justice. The impact was broad and shaped the work of the centre and other refugee serving groups going forward.”

Francisco was the first refugee to serve as the president of the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR). The organization established the Francisco Rico-Martinez Access to Justice Award in 2021 ‘to honour and continue Francisco’s leadership over his three decades within the CCR’.

He was a commanding presence on many other boards and networks, including as the Toronto Regional Director of Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, co-chair of the Inland Protection Group of the Canadian Council for Refugees, and a member of Legal Aid Ontario’s Immigration and Refugee Law Advisory Committee. He was the recipient of numerous community awards including the City of Toronto William P. Hubbard Race Relations Award and the YMCA Peace Medallion.

The Guthrie Award Medal will be presented at a private reception with Francisco’s family, colleagues, and community, public health protocols permitting.

About the Guthrie Award

The Law Foundation of Ontario created the Guthrie Award in 1996 to honour H. Donald Guthrie, Q.C., a long-standing member and Chair of the Foundation’s Board. A Guthrie Award recipient joins the legacy of the Guthrie Award and becomes a member of an esteemed group recognized for their achievements in improving access to justice. Past recipients have come from many directions – the judiciary, private bar, community legal clinics, and nonprofit organizations. They saw a chance to make a difference and took it. See the full list of Guthrie Award recipients.

Free Music Classes for Kids at FCJ Refugee Centre (2023-2024)

As a part of our Uprooted Junior Program, FCJ Refugee Centre and Musicbox Children’s Charity are offering a new season of free music classes.

Come build musical foundations through fun, educational and engaging activities!

Open to kids 6-12.

  • Where:
    In-person at the FCJ Refugee Centre
    208 Oakwood Ave.
    Toronto, ON M6E 2V4
  • When:
    Wednesdays 5:00-6:00 pm
    (private lessons)
    Thursdays 4:00-5:00 pm
    (group lessons)
  • From November 2023 to April 2024

Hosted by skilled volunteers that speak several languages:

  • Goup lessons: English, French, Cantonese, Mandarin, Spanish.
  • Private lessons: English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Tagalog, Korean

For more information, please contact Stefan:
stefanjk@fcjrefugeecentre.org

To register please fill in and submit the following form:

Child Name
Nom de l'enfant
Nombre del niño/a
*

Child Date of Birth
Date de naissance de l'enfant
Fecha de nacimiento del niño/a
*

Child Age
Âge de l'enfant
Edad del niño/a
*

Language Spoken
Langue parlée
Idioma que habla
*

Parent Name
Nom du parent
Nombre del padre/madre
*

Parent Email
Courriel du parent
Correo electrónico del padre/madre
*

Parent Phone No.
Téléphone du parent
Teléfono del padre/madre
*

Preferred Time
Période préféré
Horario preferido
*

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