Canadian Council for Refugees E-Chronicle Vol. 8 #10, 6 March 2014

Vol. 8 no. 10, 6 March 2014

In this issue:


  • Rights organizations call for oversight mechanism in response to CBSA abuses

On 5 March, the CCR together with the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL) called on the federal government to end its long inaction on the need for an independent and effective complaints and monitoring mechanism for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and proposed essential points for a future independent oversight body.

While CBSA has sweeping police powers, it is unlike most other police forces in Canada because there is no independent oversight body to review its actions and to ensure respect for the human rights of refugees, migrants, and Canadians who deal with the agency. Municipal and provincial police across Canada, as well as the RCMP, have various forms of complaint agencies and independent investigation agencies to supervise their conduct.
The organizations presented three recent examples of situations that urgently cry out for independent investigation:

  • CBSA officers share information about refugee claimants with individuals in the country of origin, potentially endangering the safety of the claimants or their families.
  • Evidence suggests that CBSA may have given the Sri Lankan security authorities an affidavit from a Sri Lankan man alleging to have been tortured by those same authorities, possibly putting him and his family in danger.
  • Lucia Vega Jiménez died in late December 2013 while in CBSA detention: information was not made public about this death until more than a month after it occurred.

For further information, see: Seven Years of Inaction: Rights organizations call for oversight mechanism in response to CBSA abuses

  • Changes to citizenship in Canada will have profound consequences: Loly Rico, CCR President

Loly RicoCCR President, Loly Rico, has written a news piece detailing proposed changes to citizenship in Canada that will have profound consequences. Because of the scale of these changes, we invite you to share this opinion piece in your local news. Versions of the text are available in English, French, Spanish, Tamil and several other languages.

If you or someone else you know is able to help publish this piece, please send an email to Janet Dench at

Here’s a sneak peak at what Loly has to say:

Citizenship rules not only determine which individuals are Canadian, they also tell us a lot about who we are as a country. So we all need to pay careful attention to a recently tabled bill, which is described by Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Alexander as the first comprehensive reforms of the Citizenship Act “in more than a generation.”

The bill will make it more difficult for newcomers to become citizens. More applicants will have to pass language and knowledge tests (everyone from 14 to 64 years of age, compared to 18-54 years now).  People will have to wait longer: they will need 4 years’ residence in Canada, rather than 3 years (...)
  • How will you mark Refugee Rights Day this 4 April?

How will you mark Refugee Rights Day this April 4th? Here are some ideas to take action as a group or as an individual this Refugee Rights Day.
Recent changes in Canada have increased negative talk and make it tougher for refugees to find protection and to feel welcome. Pledge to stand for a Canada that is strong on rights for refugees. Sign on as a group or an individual and find out what you can do to change the conversation about refugees in Canada.
On Refugee Rights Day, reach out to groups in your community standing for social justice, but for whom issues affecting refugees are not front and centre. Why not get local healthcare providers, educators, faith groups and other community groups involved as participants, promoters and even planners for your Walk with refugees for a stronger Canada?
  • Sign the pledge to stand for a Canada that is strong on rights for refugees (available online next week)
  • Reach out to local community groups and kick off plans to join the cross-country Walk with refugees for a stronger Canada in June 2014
For more information, check out our Refugee Rights Day webpage.
  • This June join the Walk with refugees for a stronger Canada

Proud to Protect RefugeesHow can we change the conversation about refugees and others seeking protection close to home? Show familiar places and faces from a new point-of-view with stories and a few steps…
As a part of the Proud to Protect Refugees campaign, we invite you to organize a walking tour in your community with stops highlighting significant places and stories for refugees, former refugees and others seeking protection (examples: businesses owned/operated by (former) refugees, health clinic, places of worship, schools, etc.) as part of a national Walk with refugees for a stronger Canada.
For more information, including walking tips, see the Proud to Protect Refugees campaign or Walking with refugees for a stronger Canada
  • Gateways to hope, pathways to belonging: CCR Spring Consultation, Halifax, 29-31 May 2014

Gateways to hope, pathways to belongingFor many newcomers arriving in Canada at a place like Halifax’s Pier 21 is not an end, but a beginning of a journey. Many people seeking protection in Canada arrive with little more than hope and become well-established and valuable contributors to our communities along the way.
Join us at the CCR Spring Consultation from 29 to 31 May 2014 in Halifax to explore questions affecting refugee protection and newcomer settlement, so that we can build stronger and more welcoming communities together.

Check our Consultation webpage for updates. Online registration will open in mid-March 2014.

About CCR Consultations
CCR Consultations are held twice a year in different cities and address issues of refugee protection and immigrant and refugee settlement. They bring together 300 or more people from across Canada and beyond. Participants include refugees, immigrants, representatives of NGOs, government, UNHCR, academics and international guests. Everyone is welcome to participate.

The Consultation is an excellent opportunity to: 

  • Meet and learn from experts in the field
  • Exchange information and prepare resolutions on a broad range of refugee and newcomer issues
  • Contribute to the CCR working groups’ ongoing dialogue on policy and legislation
  • 35 success stories in support of the CCR


To mark our 35th anniversary, the CCR is inviting individuals who came to Canada as refugees or immigrants (or whose family members made this journey before them), and who are now in the position to contribute financially, to make a special donation to support the CCR’s work.
Our goal is to find 35 donors who will make a donation of $500 or more.
We are also inviting these donors to have their story and reflections profiled by the CCR. This is an opportunity for individuals who have a personal connection to the migration experience to mark the journey they have made and to contribute to making Canadians proud to welcome refugees and immigrants today and in the future.
If you or someone you know chooses to get involved, we'd like to highlight your story and reflections. If you have a personal connection to the migration experience, you would like to mark your journey in a meaningful way and you would like to make fellow Canadians proud to welcome refugees and immigrants today and in the future, this is an opportunity for you.
The CCR seeks to make this anniversary an opportunity to celebrate the many positive and valuable contributions that refugees and immigrants make to Canadian communities
If you are interested in donating to the CCR and sharing your story, or if you know someone who would be interested, please contact Simran Chahal, CCR Fundraising Coordinator, at or (514) 277-7223

New from the CCR: Factsheet on cessation (losing refugee status)

Losing your right to remain in Canada: Cessation

Donate Now Through!

Upcoming Webinars

Wednesday 19 March: Cessation: Refugee losing their right to remain in Canada

Upcoming Meetings

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

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

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