Canadian Council for Refugees E-Chronicle Vol. 9 #2, 2 May 2014

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Vol. 9 no. 2, 2 May 2014

In this issue:

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  1. BC Court of Appeal rules that helping refugees is a criminal offence

Proud to aid and abet refugeesThe CCR is deeply disappointed in the BC Court of Appeal’s decision in Appulonappa, which concludes that Parliament intended to make it a criminal offence to help refugees, on a humanitarian basis, and that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms allows it. The CCR was an intervener in the case and highlighted the impact of smuggling provisions on humanitarian workers.

The Court overturned a decision of the BC Supreme Court that ruled that Canada’s law on human smuggling is overbroad, because it criminalizes the humanitarian actions of individuals who are helping refugees seek protection in Canada, including refugee workers and people helping their family members.

The Court of Appeal decided that the law was deliberately drafted to be broad enough to cover such humanitarian situations, despite Canada’s international obligations towards refugees.

This decision confirms a growing trend in Canada of closing the doors on refugees. Canada is losing its international leadership role in refugee protection. The decision sends a chilling message to Canadians that the court views aiding and abetting refugees not as a noble moral and legal obligation, but as a crime against the sovereignty of our borders.

To read our full press release, see: ccrweb.ca/en/court-rules-helping-refugees-criminal-offence
 

  1. Refugee claimants share thoughts on new system 

In light of important changes to the Immigration and Refuge Protection Act in 2012, the CCR conducted a research project to hear from refugee claimants about their experiences of the refugee hearing process. The goal was to gather information about the good and bad aspects of claimants’ experiences during their refugee hearings. We hope that the findings will be useful to decision-makers and others working with refugee claimants under the new system.
 
While the interviews aren’t a representative sample of all refugee claimants, many of those interviewed raised common themes, including:

  • The impact of the speed of the refugee claim process
  • The importance of having support from people and organizations
  • Financial stress
  • Personal treatment (ranging from respect to hostility)
  • Need for accurate information
  • Looking beyond the refugee hearing to challenges such as family reunification

To read the full report, go to: ccrweb.ca/en/refugee-hearing-report-2014
 

  1. Join us for Gateways to hope, pathways to belonging: CCR Spring Consultation, Halifax, 29-31 May 2014

Gateways to hope, pathways to belongingDon’t miss out: discounted rates for registration and accommodation at the CCR Consultation in Halifax end next week. Make sure to save your spot!

The theme of the CCR’s Consultation in Halifax is Gateways to hope, pathways to belonging, putting the reflections and journeys of newcomers front and centre. Join us to explore questions affecting refugee protection and newcomer settlement, so that we can build stronger and more welcoming communities together.
 
Some of the workshop topics include:
  • Changes to citizenship in Canada
  • Mitigating barriers to housing
  • Urgent protection and refugee resettlement
  • A strategy session on health issues
  • When a voluntary return is truly voluntary
  • Global migrant justice organizing
… and many more
 
Information about the consultation and online registration are available at: ccrweb.ca/meetings 

Reserve your accommodation at Saint Mary’s University by 5 May and register for the Consultation by 9 May to take advantage of reduced fees!
 
About CCR Consultations:
CCR consultations address issues of refugee protection and immigrant and refugee settlement. Bringing together more than 300 people from across Canada and beyond, they offer key opportunities for information exchange, networking, strategy development and discussion. Participants include refugees, immigrants, representatives of NGOs, government, UNHCR, academics, community workers, youth advocates and international guests.

People who work with newcomers and those with a personal interest in refugees and immigrants are warmly invited, especially youth.
The consultation is an excellent opportunity to:
  • Meet and learn from experts in the field
  • Gain professional training and strategize on a wide range of topics
  • Exchange information and prepare action plans on a broad range of issues
  • Discuss community engagement to support the full participation of newcomers in Canadian society.
     
  1. Plans are afoot! Join the Walk with refugees for a stronger Canada this June

Join the Walk with refugees for a stronger Canada

From 16 – 22 June 2014, communities from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland will be walking to put refugee voices up front and to change the conversation about refugees in Canada, as part of the Walk with refugees for a stronger Canada.
 
Here’s how to get involved:
  • Organize a Walk with stops highlighting significant places and stories for refugees, former refugees and others seeking protection. And then invite your friends, colleagues and neighbours who stand for social justice, but for whom issues affecting refugees are not front and centre.
  • Invite others and join Walk near you: Learn more about refugee contributions locally, how we can make a stronger community together and how you can put the conversation about refugees in Canada on the right path. More events will be added to the map in the coming weeks, so make sure to check back!
  • Create your own Walk if there isn’t one planned near you. Check out suggestions of ‘self-guided’ walks to take as a class of students, as a congregation or as a part of another community event.
  • Discover and share more ways to walk with refugees
For more information and to find out some of the highlights being planned, check out the Walk with refugees for a stronger Canada online.
  1. 35 Journeys supporting the CCR: Meet one of our donors,  Martha Kuwee Kumsa

Martha Kuwee KumsaMeet Martha Kuwee Kumsa. Martha came to Canada with three teenaged children as a refugee after being imprisoned and tortured by the military regime in Ethiopia for 10 years. Many Canadian organizations and groups were instrumental in securing Martha’s release from prison and resettlement to Canada, including the Canadian Council for Refugees.
 
But Martha was only then beginning a new chapter in her journey. As Martha recounts: “Arriving in Canada in the midst of a recession and finding meaningful employment was very hard. I struggled with dire financial difficulties. Life was harder in other ways. I was a single mother in a new culture with the teenaged children I had not raised as a parent.”
 
Despite these challenges, Martha took on student loans and worked several part-time jobs to make ends meet. In ten years, she completed her bachelor, masters, and doctoral degrees and has been a professor at the Faculty of Social Work of Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo for the past 12 years. Her children have all graduated from university as well.
 
As Martha’s journey – and her support for the CCR – continues: she is still unable to reunite with her husband. To pursue the CCR’s journey to help reunite refugee families in Canada, we need your support.
 
The CCR is looking for 35 individuals, like Martha, who came to Canada as refugees or immigrants and are now able to give back to make a donation of $500 to the CCR.
 
Would you or someone you know like to celebrate your own journey and contribute to keeping Canada a place of welcome for today`s refugees and immigrants?
 
If you are interested in making a donation and sharing your story, or if you know someone who would be interested, please contact Simran Chahal, Fundraising Coordinator, at schahal@ccrweb.ca or (514) 277-7223.
 
  1. New from the CCR:

Upcoming Meetings

Spring Consultation 2014, Thursday 29 May - Saturday 31 May, Halifax

Youth Action Gathering 2014, Thursday 21 August - Saturday 23 August, Toronto

Summer Working Group meetings, Friday, 5 September and Saturday, 6 September 2014, Montreal

Fall Consultation 2014, Thursday, 27 November - Saturday, 29 November 2014, Gatineau