Helping refugees become new Winnipeggers.

Some incredible generosity from Westcorp will allow arrivals to Winnipeg to start their new lives with beautiful, gently-used furniture and housewares.

Westcorp is donating the contents of 34 units at Antares Luxury Suites – the former Place Louis Riel –  to United Way Winnipeg agency partner Canadian Muslim Women’s Institute (CMWI), which will distribute the items to families arriving from Syria.

“Winnipeg is going to be their home, and it shows them the warmth of Winnipeg and the people who are here to help,” said CMWI board president Yasmin Ali.

Yasmin visited Antares Luxury Suites on Smith Street Monday to express her gratitude to Westcorp and have a look at the items destined to help new families.

The donation from the former hotel includes bedroom suites, with all the linen, as well as leather sofas, chairs & ottomans, dining room tables and chairs and all the contents of fully-furnished kitchens including pots, pans, plates, silverware, and small appliances.

John Saad, general manager of Antares Luxury Suites, said Westcorp believes in helping the communities they are part of, and when renovations at the residential building created the opportunity to donate he reached out to non-profit agencies assisting Syrian refugees.

“When we saw that all these refugees were coming to Winnipeg it was just a great fit – to help them with a leg-up in their new lives.”

Many refugee families are already getting help from CMWI, and more are on the way. CMWI executive director Diane O’Neil said they are expecting 300 families to arrive this week, and up to 70 per cent of them will receive services from CMWI.

Diane is grateful to the City of Winnipeg for providing storage space for the massive donation until it can be distributed, and for labour from the Winnipeg Police Service. She invited Winnipeg’s Coun. Janice Lukes, chair of infrastructure renewal and public works and acting deputy mayor, to share the day.

Volunteer movers will include Syrian refugees and others from CMWI. Additional volunteer labour and transportation services are being provided by the Crystal Springs Hutterite Colony, while food to fuel the move is being generously provided by Food Systems Management.

CMWI helps about 500 people a month, on average, with services that include finding food and shelter for refugees and newcomers as well as language services, employment training, social and recreation programs and health and wellbeing services.

If you would like to volunteer or get involved with CMWI look for them online at or call 204-943-8539.

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