New arts initiative to support welcome of refugees to Canada in first year of settlement

Montreal, December 11, 2015 – The Canada Council for the Arts and Sun Life Financial today announced a new arts initiative to support efforts to welcome Syrian refugees to Canada. Starting in April 2016, the Canada Council’s new initiative will support arts organizations that wish to provide free access to refugees to a performance, exhibition or arts event in their communities. The announcement was made by Canada Council CEO Simon Brault and Isabelle Hudon, Executive Chair of Sun Life Financial, Quebec and Canada Council Board Member at Montreal’s Théâtre d’aujourd’hui, in the presence of Minister of Canadian Heritage, Mélanie Joly.

The Canada Council will release further details in March 2016 for arts organizations who are interested in getting involved.


“We know the welcome and integration of refugees is a highly complex and multifaceted process, and this initiative is one modest piece of much broader collective and national efforts. We also know that arts and culture can be a refuge, a celebration of diversity, and source of inspiration and connection. Our message on behalf of the arts community to newcomers is ‘welcome, we are so happy to have you in our communities, we welcome you to our spaces, performances and events when you are ready.’"                                                     

– Simon Brault, Director & CEO, Canada Council for the Arts


"Sun Life Financial is pleased to be doing its part to welcome arriving Syrian refugees. Our employees were eager to contribute to the group effort, and on Thursday we announced the launch of a special fund in the form of a donation matching program for our employees and advisors. Sun Life will match their donations dollar-for-dollar, up to a maximum of $50,000, to support the Red Cross as it works to provide basic needs for refugee families. Our partnership today with the Canada Council for the Arts also reflects this commitment. We believe that integrating into a new land includes getting to know local people and culture, and that cultural spaces are an ideal place for them to do both. This additional donation is made possible through our national Making the Arts More Accessible program, which enables those with lower financial means to enjoy free, or reduced-price, cultural activities."

– Isabelle Hudon
Executive Chair - Sun Life Financial, Quebec
 Senior Vice President Client Solutions - Sun Life Financial Canada


“All Canadians are encouraged to join in the efforts to help Syrian refugees flourish in their new communities. I am pleased to support this initiative that will allow newcomers to discover Canadian culture through enriching cultural and artistic experiences.”

– The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage


About the Initiative:

  • For 2016-17, the Canada Council is committing $150,000 to support the arts initiative. This is new money added to the existing granting activities of the Council. Sun Life Financial will contribute $50,000 through its Corporate Social Responsibility and Philanthropy Branch.
  • Details on the initiative will be released in March 2016, as will a list of collaborators and resources in the resettlement sector in communities across Canada.

About the Canada Council

The Canada Council for the Arts is Canada’s national public arts funder. We champion and invest in artistic excellence so that Canadians may enjoy and participate in a rich cultural life. In 2013-14, we allocated $153.6 million towards artistic creation and innovation through our grants, prizes and payments. We also conduct research, convene activities and work with partners to advance the sector and help embed the arts more deeply in communities across the country.

About Sun Life Financial

Celebrating 150 years in 2015, Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Sun Life Financial and its partners have operations in a number of markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bermuda. As of September 30, 2015, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of $846 billion. For more information please visit

Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF.



Media Contacts:           

Canada Council for the Arts
Geneviève Vallerand, Manager, Public Relations and Social Media
1-800-263-5588 or 613-566-4414 (ext. 5145)
613-790-4294 (mobile)

Sunlife Financial
Jennifer M. McIntosh, Manager, Philanthropy, Global Marketing