As asylum seekers make their way through deep, snow-covered fields into Manitoba, The Salvation Army is providing shelter and safety once they arrive in Winnipeg. “Most are carrying nothing more than a backpack,” says Major Rob Kerr, divisional secretary for public relations and development, Prairie Division. “They need all their energy to get through the fields.”

The Army's Booth Centre is working in partnership with Welcome Place, which offers a range of services to assist refugee newcomers.

“Welcome Place is directing the asylum-seekers to Booth Centre for shelter and food,” says Major Kerr, noting that the shelter has a dedicated space with 30 beds and other options to take in more people, if needed.

Major Kerr also says that in the dark of night, some parents have dragged their children through snow up to their waists, some have had fingers amputated due to frostbite and others have walked up to eight hours to feel safe and avoid being deported.

“I met a couple recently—the wife is five months pregnant and knew the risks of hypothermia and frostbite,” Major Kerr shares. “But they were afraid of being deported. Their lives were in danger when they fled Somalia for Brazil. They walked from Brazil through South America to Mexico. It took them three months. From Mexico they came to the United States where they applied for refugee status. They were in the process with their appeal when it was denied and their hearing was cancelled. They won't go back to Somalia.

“Asylum-seekers are coming to Canada to stay alive. We want these kind, gentle and grateful people to feel safe and comfortable and let them know we are here to help them as best as we can.”

The area of the Booth Centre where the asylum seekers are staying was in the process of being renovated for a future program and is currently unused. This initiative is not taking space or beds away from anybody else in the community.

Although the asylum seekers are crossing the border illegally, once they have made contact with the Canada Border Services Agency they are legally allowed to stay in Canada. The Army's provision of shelter to asylum seekers is in full compliance with federal law.

“Once the asylum seekers arrive in Winnipeg, they are people in our community who are in need,” says Major Kerr. “We are serving them as we would any other person who comes to The Salvation Army for help.”


On Monday, June 12, 2017, Justin Steckbauer said:

Don Carr:

Respectfully, that's incorrect. These are people who have violated the sovereign laws of our nation. They've rejected the process of entering the country legally, and chosen to violate the law to break in uninvited. I'm glad that the Salvation Army in Canada is serving those in need, and we serve those in need here, but we also have laws and rules, and they should be followed. I'm unaware of government suppressing media. In fact we have a free media here. No human rights laws are being violated, the United States government is enforcing laws regarding illegal entry into the country, which is a wise thing to do.


On Sunday, March 12, 2017, John Stephenson said:

There was an article in the Winnipeg Free Press this week that I commented on re TSA using Booth Centre to assist in housing refugees. The comments below are the comments I made in WFP.
There was a WFP story today about Salvation Army Running out of space for the refugees at the Booth Centre. There were a series of comments on the WFP blog site that said this was a wrong thing to do. My comments challenging those who are mad about Salvation Army doing such which I sent to Free Press are below
"I truly do not understand the attitude of some of the posters here re this new item.
I have issues with what is happening about these people who are fleeing oppressive nations.
Of course part of me is concerned about possible troublemakers infiltrating groups of refugees but from what I have seen here these people do not fit that category.
Canada is a country of immigrants and we have space in this country for many more.
So I say welcome them.
As to where they are to stay or how to house feed and take care of them-there are organizations that do that but they are stretched to the limit. The Salvation Army is stepping in here to assist as it has in many cases since they were founded. I would like to bring to mind some of those times--they handled Farm Colonies in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The Salvation Army which first and foremost is a Christian Evangelical Church believes in living their faith through providing services to those on the edge of society, the disposed, the vulnerable. What they are doing here is right and proper and within their mission and mandate.
One of the world leaders of The Salvation Army was Albert Orsborn who served as General many years ago . He was also a song writer and poet and he wrote in one of his pieces the following words: "Except I am moved with compassion, How dwelleth thy Spirit in me ? In word and in deed, burning love is my need; I know I can find this in thee"
It is that compassion, that love, that mercy which motivates Salvationists and The Salvation Army.
They should be commended for that at the Booth Centre."

On Sunday, February 26, 2017, Don Carr said:

Justin Steckbauer

Innocent people are seeking asylum from your government in Canada
Your government is suppressing media
Your government is breaking human rights laws

it should cause you to have grave concerns not applaud their actions.

On Friday, February 24, 2017, Justin Steckbauer said:

I'm grateful that the Salvation Army is caring for those in need. And I'm grateful that countries like the United States are enforcing immigration laws, to prevent terrorism, drug trafficking, human trafficking, and illegal immigrant crime. Illegal immigrants have broken the law, and they should be deported if they break the law (Romans 13:1-2). But it's also wonderful that the Salvation Army and other charities can provide comfort, food, water, and shelter to those who are on the run and in need of God's love and mercy.

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