In 2019, a group of Australian expats and Canadians living in Toronto came together. They had never met each other but had one important thing in common. They were appalled by the indefinite detention of refugees in Australia’s offshore processing centres and wanted to do something to help.
Out of that initial meeting grew Ads Up Canada Refugee Network, a volunteer-driven, federally incorporated Canadian charity that mobilizes Australian expats and Canadians to resettle these refugees through Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program.
In 2020 Ads Up Canada joined in partnership with MOSAIC (a Canadian Sponsorship Agreement Holder) in Operation #NotForgotten, a partnership between MOSAIC, Ads Up Canada and the Refugee Council of Australia. This unique partnership works to offer a durable solution for refugees who have been indefinitely detained on PNG or Nauru, building on the strength of an organization with over two decades of settlement experience (MOSAIC) and the grassroots strength and Australian knowledge of Ads Up Canada.
Ads Up Canada plays a vital role in Operation #NotForgotten. Applications are submitted to Canadian immigration through MOSAIC while Ads Up Canada recruits, trains and assists the settlement teams that welcome and support arriving refugees during their first year in Canada. We have recruited hundreds of volunteers across five Canadian provinces and over a dozen cities to form settlement teams and provide ongoing trauma-informed training and support to each team. In the process we have built vital partnerships with MOSAIC, the Refugee Council of Australia and UNHCR Australia.
The mission of Ads Up Canada Refugee Network is to inform, connect and empower Canadians and Australian expats to welcome refugees who were detained on Manus and Nauru to Canada through the Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program.
Our vision is to provide hope, an alternative pathway and durable solution for those detained through Australian offshore processing.
Anti-Oppression: We recognize that certain people face oppressive experiences because of individual and systemic unequal power related to race, colour, culture, ethnicity, language and linguistic origin, ability, socio-economic class, age, ancestry, nationality, place of birth, religion, sex, gender (including gender identity and expression), sexuality/sexual orientation, family status, and residency/migratory status in Canada. We also recognize that unequal power is present in a systemic way in the private sponsorship system. Therefore, we commit that our work will centre the knowledge, skills and experience of refugees and that we acknowledge the existence of discrimination and make a conscious effort to challenge oppression.
Responsibility: We believe that both Canada and Canadians, as well as Australia and Australians, have responsibilities to welcome and resettle refugees, and that refugees, asylum seekers and displaced persons have the right to a dignified and meaningful life and are due the rights and protections laid out in both Canadian and international agreements and conventions.
Collaboration and solidarity: We are committed to building alliances in order to achieve meaningful change and work collectively toward common aims.
Accountability: We are committed to maintaining effective and transparent governance, measurement and reporting practices.
Ads Up Canada Co-Directors
Laura Beth Bugg
Dr. Laura Beth Bugg is an American-Australian who has called Toronto, Canada home since 2014. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at The University of Toronto, researching on migration and religion. Laura Beth was living in Sydney, Australia in 2013 when “Operation Sovereign Borders” was implemented.
While working at Sydney University she conducted research on organizations providing services to asylum seekers and refugees in Australia, particularly unaccompanied minors. She has advised Canadian immigration on religious worker visas and been involved in the Canadian Private Sponsorship of Refugees program since 2018.
She is currently working to sponsor refugees in Indonesia and Thailand as well as Manus and Nauru, and is part of Group of Five, Community Sponsor and SAH sponsorships.
Dr. Juliet Donald is an Australian-Canadian, who immigrated to Canada in 2011. She is a Clinical Psychologist, having completed her training at the School of Psychology at the University of Sydney. Juliet was a university student during the Tampa crisis in 2001 and from that time on was interested in international humanitarian law, and the psychological impact of offshore, prolonged and indefinite detention.
Juliet left Sydney in 2010 to work internationally with Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), initially working in conflict and post-conflict contexts, addressing the mental health needs of refugees and internally displaced populations.
Juliet lives in Toronto with her family, where she continues to work clinically in private practice, and as a staff health psychologist for Médecins Sans Frontières and other humanitarian aid agencies. Juliet is currently involved in the sponsorship of a family of 4 from Nauru and a man from Manus Island.
Refugee Sponsorship Coordinator
Yazan Alhajali is a Syrian-Canadian who arrived in Canada as a refugee himself in 2017. Before arriving in Canada, Yazan worked with international development agencies to support civil society in war-torn Syria. Upon arrival in Canada, he engaged in supporting newly arriving refugees with orientation and translation.
Yazan obtained a master’s degree in professional communications and focused his research on the experiences of Middle Eastern refugees in Toronto and the gaps in provided services and support. Currently, Yazan lives with his partner in Toronto, and he is a member of several private sponsorship groups and an active volunteer with refugee-support and community organizations.
Board of Directors
Bill Croson and his partner, Don McCulloch, have been involved with private sponsorship of refugees to Canada for over two years.
“We were introduced to sponsorship through two close friends who themselves were brought to Canada as part of the federal government’s efforts to create a new and safe home for people who had fled the conflict in Syria. Since then, Don and I have found great fulfillment in helping others find their way to Canada. Our first formal involvement as sponsors was for two men who were held on Manus in Papua New Guinea as a result of government policies to bar migrants from landing on Australian soil.
As a couple that identifies as LGBTQIA+, our focus is mainly on those from our community, recognizing that queer people face more complicated challenges as refugees. We also understand the urgency for those who do not identify as LGBTQIA+ and help those who do not identify as LGBTQIA+ where we can. Our home is home to several newcomers now, and we anticipate that it will be home to others yet to come as well. It has been an incredibly rewarding experience for us, and one that we will continue to support.”
Anika Henderson is a Canadian who lives in Swift Current, Saskatchewan. Anika lived in Australia from 2004 through 2007 during the early days of the Pacific Solution and the mandatory detention regime.
During her time in Australia, she completed a Human Rights Internship at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and worked with the Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program in Melbourne, Victoria. Anika returned to Canada in 2007 and founded the Southwest Newcomer Welcome Centre in Swift Current.
These days, she owns/operates Imagine Immigration & Consulting Services and is a Registered Canadian Immigration Consultant. She has been involved in BVOR and private refugee sponsorship since 2015 and is currently working to sponsor 3 refugees from Manus.
Juliette Nicolet is a policy professional with over fifteen years of experience in strategic policy advocacy and development, expertise in relationships building and team development. Juliette’s expertise and interests are in Indigenous praxis as it relates to policy and intersects with the Canadian political landscape. She also explores international policy trends and their impacts on Indigenous communities to inform decision-making and advocacy.
Projects Juliette has worked on include the Boyd Review of Sharia in Family Law
Arbitration (2004), the Urban Aboriginal Task Force Report (2007), the Ontario
Indigenous Children and Youth Strategy (2015), the Urban Indigenous Action Plan
(2018), as well as multiple submissions annually to the provincial and federal
governments in the areas of governance, justice, education, housing, employment and
training, children and youth, and health. Juliette holds an MA in Political Science from the University of Toronto and obtained both her LLB and her BCL from McGill University. She and her partner live in Toronto with their two children.
Amir Sahragard is an Iranian Canadian now living in Toronto. After fleeing persecution in his home country of Iran, Amir made it to Australia where he was unlawfully detained on Manus Island.
After almost six years stranded by Australia’s asylum policies, he was given a chance to rebuild his life in Canada by a team of volunteer sponsors working under Canada’s unique private resettlement model. He’s now training to become an electrician, rebuilding his life, and telling his story to raise support for hundreds of fellow refugees who remain stranded by Australia’s refugee policies.
Refugee Council of Australia
RCoA is the Australian national umbrella body for refugees and people seeking asylum and those who support them. As a nonprofit organization, RCoA is able to accept donations on behalf of MOSAIC and Ads Up Canada for Operation Not Forgotten and issue charitable tax receipts to Australian donors.
We are grateful to these groups who have joined us to raise significant funds to sponsor refugees from Manus and Nauru.
If your group would like to help raise funds, please get in touch.