“No one gets left behind. No one is left out. All are treated with dignity and respect."

— Joseph Gosnell, CC OBC, Laxts’imilx Laxsgiik, Nisga'a Nation


Volunteer with our Review Subcommittee in 2021

Ever felt like volunteering, but not sure where to begin?

Rainbow Foundation of Hope (RFOH) relies on community support to help us review grant applications from our National Partners.

They are Canadian registered charities leading projects and programs for LGBT+ refugees and newcomers (i.e., SOGIE migrants) through three RFOH funding streams:

Whenever RFOH receives a new application, we draw upon a growing database of community volunteers on our Review Subcommittee to review and evaluate each application.

The process provides transparency and accountability of our grant administration process to volunteers and donors.

Commit whatever time you can. Each application is based purely on your interest and availability. We look for a minimum of two (2) community representatives outside of the RFOH Board of Directors to help with a goal of 50% community representation.

Over 30 volunteers have helped us with the review process to date. Message us at volunteer@strutvancouver.ca and we’ll happily add you to our growing list.


Mawlana: giving back to the cause for safe migration

Raphaël and Galilio are a gay couple who fled persecution from their home countries to Turkey before coming to Canada as asylum seekers. In March 2020, they opened up Mawlana, a small boutique shop on Granville Island named after the Sufi poet Rumi. They sell handmade cashmere, silk scarves, shoes, soap, jewelry, and other accessories. Many of these goods were made by women in a refugee community in Turkey. The concept of Mawlana reflects not only their culture, but also the cultures of the people they left behind.

Unfortunately, Mawlana had to close weeks after opening in March due to the pandemic. Nonetheless, this did not dampen Raphaël and Galilio’s enthusiasm to succeed in Canada, their new home. They are resilient and worked nonstop to take thousands of pictures of their products to facilitate online sales. Mawlana is now open for shopping both online at www.mawlana.ca and in-store at Granville Island (1670 Duranleau St, Vancouver). 

This holiday season, Mawlana will be donating 10% of the proceeds from their rainbow soap box sales to the Rainbow Foundation of Hope so we can continue helping refugees and asylum seekers like Raphaël and Galilio. These beautiful soap boxes contain soaps of all the colours of the rainbow and represent the beautiful, vibrant community that we all love. We at Rainbow Foundation of Hope will definitely be doing our holiday shopping at Mawlana. We hope that everyone will consider paying a visit, whether physically or virtually, this holiday season to support a beautiful and local refugee-owned business that embodies true strength and resilience. Thank you to Raphaël and Galilio for your compassion and generosity. This is why we have hope.

Happy PRIDE from all of us to all of you!

Rainbow Foundation of Hope wishes everyone in our community and all our allies a wonderful Pride in 2020. Whether you are a donor or an administrator of this work, we are all volunteers.

Every bit of effort matters. Donations are critical to the ongoing work and essential to its success. Whether you support this cause as a private sponsor, lead a resettlement program as community service provider, or raise funds to continue the work, you are instrumental to the movement.

Canada is viewed as a sanctuary for SOGIE migrants. In such a time of uncertainty with the global pandemic, queer folks facing persecution are especially disadvantaged and vulnerable.

They need us more than ever.

Consider joining this movement and volunteer with us. It is as easy as making a donation.


LGBT+ displaced persons and the global pandemic

Imagine having to be on the run from your family and having nowhere safe to run.

No place to hide, and no reprieve from the fear of violence, persecution, public shaming, and even the fear of losing your life, simply because of who you are. Imagine seeking salvation from violence through the local police or protective services, only to find them to be firmly on the side of your oppressors, further ensuring the only place to live is on the extreme margins of society.

And imagine this is your reality, simply for being who you are.

This is the situation countless members of the LGBT+ community face while trying to survive in some of the 72 countries around the world that still criminalize same-sex intimacy and/or sexual identity.

These are not far away lands or countries on the other side of the world. Take Jamaica, for example. This is a country in the Western hemisphere that still criminalizes and marginalizes homosexuality. Members of the LGBT+ community still face sexual and physical violence and imprisonment in Jamaica. Reports of mob attacks against individuals, simply for being gay, are not uncommon.

Even today, such laws persist in places like St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Barbados. They allow for up to 10 years in prison for “buggery” and “indecency.” Our neck of the woods still has a lot of work to do.

More than ever, effects of people not being able to flee persecution due to the pandemic have come to the forefront.

Recently, one of our main community partners in Toronto, Rainbow Railroad has highlighted the effects that COVID-19 on those fleeing violence around the world, as well as new challenges they face with lockdowns and border closings.

Many repressive state authorities in some of these 72 countries are using this time during the pandemic to target LGBT+ folks seeking out an dignified existence. Many are already forced into camps or the sex trade once they flee their homes and cities. They find it ever harder to escape.

COVID-19 has enabled new forms of repression by some local authorities forcing LGBT+ folks into especially egregious circumstances.

UGANDA: “Under the guise of lockdown restrictions, authorities raided an LGBTQI shelter and arrested 23 people on March 29. We know for certain they were arrested under false pretenses, and they are still being detained.” – Rainbow Railroad

A recent report by ABC News highlighted the detaining of LGBT+ individuals during the pandemic.

As Rainbow Road highlights, there is a network of organizations and people around the world providing these reports and acting to assist in the efforts of finding salvation.

Rainbow Foundation of Hope remains committed to fundraising, bringing awareness to these issues, and supporting organizations that assist LGBT+ asylum seekers and refugees fleeing violence and persecution.

To donate, please visit us here.


Explaining Private Sponsorship of LGBT+ Refugees in Canada

Did you know that citizens and permanent residents of Canada can sponsor LGBT+ asylum seekers or refugees that qualify for resettlement as newly settled migrants (i.e., newcomers)?

You can apply through the federal Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program (PSRP). Support for each newcomer is expected over the length of the resettlement (at least one year).

It includes help to find housing, clothing and food, as well as to provide social and emotional support. Private sponsors will also be expected to have the necessary funds to support any sponsored individual(s).


This is where RFOH fits in.


In fact, the very process is what brought the folks in Vancouver together, first as private sponsors to two gay Syrian refugees. It later led us to create Rainbow Foundation of Hope.

There are a few things you need to know, so this blog post discusses the many ways to privately sponsor LGBT+ refugees in Canada through the PSRP.

Sponsorship Agreement Holder (SAH)

Sponsorship agreement holders are groups in Canada, often registered charities and faith-based organizations, holding agreements with the Government of Canada to help support refugees with the support of Canadian citizens as private sponsors.

Rainbow Foundation of Hope awards grants for sponsorship support, which tend to involve SAHs and include private sponsors known as Constituent Groups (CG) working with co-sponsoring organizations like Rainbow Refugee (Vancouver), Capital Rainbow Refuge (Ottawa), and Rainbow Railroad (Toronto) as relevant examples.

As registered Canadian charities, each co-sponsoring organization is directly eligible for grants from RFOH of up to $7,500 per application on behalf of the CG. Eligible applicants for private sponsorship support must demonstrate collaboration through affiliation with Rainbow Refugee and the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Partnership (RRAP). 

Blended Visa Office-Referred Program (BVOR)

The Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) program involves Canadians working as private sponsors with the Government of Canada to support refugees that have been referred by the UNHCR. These individuals tend to be particularly vulnerable and in urgent need of asylum and resettlement.

BVOR applicants hold Refugee status under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). These individuals are otherwise known as “Convention Refugees“.

The definition of grounds for refugee status comes from the 1951 UN Convention signed in Geneva, Switzerland:


Persecution is a threat to life or freedom because of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.


The UNHCR identifies the refugees for private sponsorship under the BVOR program. Rainbow Refugee Association of Nova Scotia (RRANS) and St. Andrews-Wesley United Church are examples of Canadian organizations actively working to resettle refugees through the BVOR program. 

Community Sponsor (CS)

Community Sponsor is an organization, association, or corporation sponsoring one or more Convention Refugees to come to Canada. The CS similarly must also represent or be aligned with a registered charity to receive and administer FOH grants.

Joint Assistance Sponsorship Program (JAS)

The Joint Assistance Sponsorship Program involves organizations that work as partners with the Government of Canada to resettle refugees with special needs. Refugees coming to Canada through JAS are considered highly vulnerable and tend to require the greatest level of care and support during resettlement.

Rainbow Refugee Assistance Partnership (RRAP)

Only SAHs working with a CG across Canada through Rainbow Refugee in Vancouver are eligible for resettlement assistance under the RRAP. This government program was the initiative of and remains administered by Rainbow Refugee Society in Vancouver.

Rainbow Refugee identifies its Constituent Groups as Circles of Hope.

The RRAP provides government assistance to LGBT+ refugees across Canada for the first three months of resettlement. It also permits LGBT+ refugee sponsorship applications to be reviewed in Canadian visa offices around the world. This includes “safe countries” where SOGIE persecution exists, but would otherwise not accept refugee claims. Finally, it ensures that SAHs have capacity to take on LGBT+ private sponsorships without having to factor them into their annual resettlement quotas.

The RRAP is a valuable mechanism for enabling LGBT+ refugees to escape persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (i.e., as SOGIE migrants). Rainbow Foundation of Hope supports the efforts of Canadian civil society groups working to ensure the RRAP can remain a regular element of the PSRP in Canada.

Rainbow Coalition for Refugee (RC4R)

In 2019, thanks to extensive efforts by the Rainbow Coalition for Refuge (RC4R) to actively consult the federal government, the RRAP was expanded for another 5 five years with an $800,000 funding commitment. Support from our corporate partnership with TD Bank has also helped to financially backed RC4R consultation efforts with the Government of Canada.

All six of the RC4R founding members have received grants from RFOH.

This is all thanks to donations that have come from Canadians through our grassroots fundraising efforts led by our flagship event known as STRUT. Across Canada, RC4R member organizations include:

Rainbow Refugee in Vancouver
End of the Rainbow in Calgary
Rainbow Railroad and Metropolitan Community Church in Toronto
Capital Rainbow Refuge in Ottawa
Rainbow Refugee Association of Nova Scotia in Halifax

This Campaign has ended. No more pledges can be made.