History of AURA
The roots of AURA's work is embedded in the desire of Canadians wanting to help the mass exodus of refugees from South East Asia in the late 1970’s. It is the plight and flight of these people that formed the genesis of Canada's current refugee sponsorship programs. AURA can directly trace our roots to those first Canadians that not only saw the need, but who chose to get directly involved in supporting and aiding people.

Jean Watt Residence
The Jean Watt Residence.
Present day AURA is an amalgamation of two refugee agencies who continued supporting refugees long after the initial impact of the crises of the late 1970’s subsided.

The Toronto United Church Emergency Refugee Relief (TUCERR) organization began in 1985 as a response to the dilemma of young political refugee claimants being held in detention centre like conditions at Pearson International Airport. These refugees were held with little access to services, support, or advocates. TUCERR offered support by first attempting to house these refugees in the homes of concerned Church members, but quickly realized that the need exceeded available space. In order to create improved conditions, a private residence was dedicated to housing refugees, named the Jean Watt Residence. TUCERR’s efforts continued to support inland claimants by providing friendship, temporary shelter, and practical assistance to refugees.


The Working Group on Refugee Resettlement (WGRR) came together in the fall of 1985 with a mandate to facilitate the sponsorship of refugees through churches in the Anglican Diocese of Toronto and the Toronto
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Conference of the United Church. WGRR quickly gained charitable status soon after becoming established and in 1991 WGRR became federally incorporated as a registered non-profit agency. WGRR’s mandate was to; promote sponsorship, assist sponsoring groups, educate the community about the needs of refugees, and to overall improve the well-being of refugees as they settle in Canada.

In 1994 TUCERR merged with WGRR as the United Church had been operating the Jean Watt Residence for a significant amount of time. The merger allowed WGRR to focus its mandate on overseas sponsorship while developing a comprehensive referral service for inland claimants. In 2006, WGRR changed it's name to Anglican United Refugee Alliance (AURA) in an effort to refocus and re-brand the organization. This refocusing was centred on educating churches and community groups about the needs of refugees and how they could directly help through private refugee sponsorship.

Today AURA represents the Anglican Diocese of Toronto and supports the Toronto Conference of the United Church of Canada as a Sponsorship Agreement Holder with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). AURA is a Canadian charitable organization assisting in the sponsorship and resettlement of refugees. Our mission is to provide support and expertise to constituent groups involved in refugee sponsorship and resettlement. AURA empowers and enables communities to welcome the stranger. We see all Canadians working together to help support and guide refugees as they make new lives here in Canada. 

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    Toronto, ON M4B 1M8
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