Restoring Family Links in Lacolle, Quebec

Earlier this year, Canadian Red Cross teams assisted refugee claimants throughout Canada. Restoring Family Links (RFL) services were provided at the border in Saint-Bernard de Lacolle, Quebec 24 hours a day to connect people with their families, wherever they may be.

Due to an increase in the number of migrants arriving from the United States into Quebec, Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) requested support from the Red Cross to provide services to refugee claimants who were waiting to be processed at the Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle border crossing. Various humanitarian services were provided to support the Government of Canada, Government of Quebec and other agencies mandated to receive refugee claimants.  
In August, more than 1,500 outgoing calls were made to ensure family connections were maintained and that refugee claimants had the support they needed, by December 2017 that number has reached 3000. Red Cross services included the distribution of personal hygiene kits, blankets, baby supplies, food, basic health care services, in addition to restoring family links.

Restauring family links in LacolleVolunteers play an important role in supporting and connecting family members. Everyday, more than 70 volunteers were mobilized to support refugee claimants in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Quebec.

Paul Mary Jean, a Red Cross volunteer who immigrated to Canada from Haiti 12 years ago, was in Lacolle throughout August providing RFL services. Jean says he enjoys providing these services to the families he met.

 'People are very happy to be able to contact their families and their relatives are reassured to hear from their loved ones.'
Each family and story is unique. At first, Jean shared that most of the people being given assistance were of Haitian origin; however, throughout the operation, RFL services were provided to people from all over the world, Jean said, 'Because of the time difference we have been working at night to allow people to contact their families in the Middle-East'.
As families come together throughout the holiday season, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) launched a short video to reflect on family togetherness. ‘Every parent’s worst nightmare’ serves as a powerful reminder of the value and importance of connection during the holiday season and throughout the year.

The Restoring Family Links Program helps families re-establish contact when all other means fail. The transmission of Red Cross Messages and the search for family members is done through the International Red Cross and Red Crescent network that consists of ICRC delegations and National Societies in more than 190 countries.  
In Canada, the Red Cross Restoring Family Links program provides services that also include confirmation of detention, health and welfare inquiries, and restoring family connections that span generations.

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