New Name, A Clearer Guide for Being a Welcoming Community

Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support Renames as COMPASS Refugee Centre


  • Closed borders does not mean no refugees. Over 1,600 refugee claimants were already living in KW when the borders closed. They still need critical support as they navigate their refugee claim process under COVID-19 restrictions. 
  • With a new look and a new name, Compass Refugee Centre seeks to encompass the whole community, supporting those seeking refuge in these extraordinary times.

WATERLOO – February 22, 2021 – The Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support (MCRS) announces the launch of its new name, COMPASS Refugee Centre, to better align with their fresh and expanded vision as a leading organization accompanying refugee claimants arriving in Southwestern Ontario,  as they navigate the complex refugee claim process. 

Long known as a welcoming community for refugees, the Waterloo Region-based charitable organization serves as a unique supportive community for those coming to Canada without a sponsor-  escaping targeted persecution, uncontrollable gang violence, or political violence.

COMPASS began in 1987 as a coalition of Waterloo Region Mennonite Churches supported by Mennonite Central Committee of Ontario. Together they provided for the immediate needs and refugee claims process support of refugee claimants escaping the oppressive and deadly impact of various Central American crises, including the Nicaraguan Revolution. 

With a current caseload of over 1,600 active refugee claimants, from 65 countries, and donors from all walks of life, the work has grown dramatically over the past 33 years, and now encompasses a temporary guest home, translation services, employment readiness support, access to virtual hearings, support networks, and more. 

The organization’s new name and  tagline highlights their hope-filled role: “Assist, Accompany, Advocate:” communicating that COMPASS Refugee Centre is fully committed to support refugee claimants as they start their process, all the way through to thriving in their new life here. 

Shelley Campagnola, Executive Director of COMPASS Refugee Centre, shares: “the 1,600 men, women and children we currently support have fled their countries, families, and careers, in situations that are hard to imagine. Most often, our clients are educated, skilled, and have experienced deep trauma. For these people, it is essential that we ensure that they find a welcoming community here, and receive help as they navigate the refugee claim process.” 

Follow COMPASS Refugee Centre on Facebook or Youtube to learn more about how COMPASS volunteers, staff and donors are creating #welcomingcommunities. 


Interviews with COMPASS Refugee Centre’s Executive Director, Shelley Campagnola, are available. Contact Shannon Mischuk, or 519-342-3703.


About COMPASS Refugee Centre

COMPASS Refugee CentreCOMPASS Refugee Centre works for the day that every person coming to Canada seeking refuge has unhindered access to justice, and the opportunity to thrive in welcoming communities. COMPASS is a leader in assisting refugee claimants as they navigate the refugee claim process, accompanying them as they seek to thrive in a new life in Canada, and advocating for them as they become contributing members in welcoming communities. Our experienced staff and volunteers are deeply passionate as they respect, empower, and encourage support for refugee claimants as they face their immediate crisis situation. For more information visit

About Shelley Campagnola, Executive Director

Shelley CampagnolaFor more than thirty years, Shelley has been involved in local, national, and international settings working in business and nonprofit contexts. She holds a Business degree, Religious Education degree and a Masters degree in Theological Studies. Shelley’s training in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Volunteer Management, Risk Management, and Trauma Response has structured her passion for helping people build new lives in Canada. Shelley began working at COMPASS Refugee Centre in 2016 and has championed the renewal of the organization’s focus since then. 


Suggested Interview Questions 

  1. For those who may not know, what is the COMPASS Refugee Center? 
  2. You work with refugee claimants. Can you describe the difference between a sponsored refugee and a refugee claimant?
  3. Can you explain what kind of impact the work COMPASS has on refugee claimants?
  4. How have you seen COVID-19 impact the refugee process and refugees themselves? 
  5. What initiatives is COMPASS taking to support refugee claimants during this time?
  6. What is your future vision for COMPASS as you continue to grow in scope? 
  7. For those part of the local community, what can we do to ensure our community is welcoming?
  8. Where can listeners go to learn more about COMPASS and the work you do?