How have you been involved with the CCR and for how long?
The first CCR consultation I attended was Fall 2012. What an experience! First of all, to see that many people advocating for same issues I strongly believe in was surreal. The information shared by many experts was so uplifting and it got me excited to go back to work. The atmosphere was intimidating at first, but longtime members were very welcoming to a newcomer like me. I took every opportunity to network and get to know many people as much as I can during the three days. I think it was during my third consultation that I was asked to co-moderate a workshop and even with hesitation due to nerves, I accepted the challenge. Shortly after, I was asked to join the Inland Protection Steering Committee. I will always be thankful to CCR for the trust, encouragement, the opportunity and most especially the learning that I am confident to say I will not get anywhere else.
Why has it been important to you to stay involved with the CCR?
It did not take long for me to recognize the fact that it will be impossible for me to give informed and current information to clients and community partners without the knowledge gained through CCR. My involvement with CCR has provided me not only with resources to know the past, current and emerging issues, but CCR and its members have also given me the encouragement to move forward when changes get to be overwhelming. With CCR, I never felt isolated in my work despite the uniqueness of some cases I face on a day-to-day basis.
What are some of the current pressing issues that are affecting refugee families in your community (i.e. around family separation and barriers)?
One of the great successes of the Canadian immigration and refugee system is the moment that families are able to reunite safely in Canada. Often after years of separation and strained communication, the chance to see each other again is what newcomer families have been hoping and praying for. There is no doubt that the option for family reunification is an integral and much-needed component of the immigration system, however, the painful realities of the process cannot continue to be ignored.
Presently the system of family reunification in Canada is unequal. The length of time newcomers must wait until their family members actually touch Canadian soil varies significantly by immigration category, region of the world the family is from, and in some instances, even Canadian laws. This inequality frustrates an already deeply complex system and directly impacts those who are simply trying to reunite with their families. The fact of the matter is that for many families the long processing time of family reunification is full of unforeseen challenges. The lengthy separation truly takes a toll on families who were used to being together. Sometimes, as a result of the years of separation, families have to learn how to be a family once again once they are reunited. This can be an extremely challenging time as everyone in the family must adapt not only to their new lives in Canada but also to learning how to live as a family again. Parents go for years without seeing their children and feel like they have missed out on the opportunity to watch them grow up. Spouses feel disconnected from each other after years of only communicating electronically. Children have to learn to forgive their parents for the abandonment they felt when they left to Canada without them. All of these are experiences that newly reunited families must confront and deal with in order to begin their new lives together and integrate in Canada.
While the chance to reunite as a family is a beautiful opportunity for new Canadians, it is not one free from pain or impacts on mental health. What these families need is our prayers throughout the lengthy reunification process, but most especially once they are safely here in Canada. Through bringing these families into our community of prayer we can pray that they understand that they are not alone in this experience. Please join us in praying for these families as they continue their long journeys to becoming happy and healthy Canadians.
Why do you think it is important for donors to continue their support of CCR right now?
The past election results in the United States have caused panic and fear in many people, causing them to turn to Canada for refuge. It is important to note, however, people all over the world have been seeking for a safe haven prior to the current political status of the United States.
As we have seen readily in the last two years, the global refugee crisis is one that is expanding not shrinking. Never have we lived in a time where there was this much need for refugees around the world. Families are being ripped apart every moment of every day.
Many people don’t know what to do with these refugee issues; some in denial, some blame refugees themselves for their plight, some try to find ways to open their homes.
The CCR play a pivotal role in responding to the needs of refugees who make it to Canada and seek to reunite with their families in our country. It is only through CCR’s continued efforts and generous donations from grants and donors that they will be able to serve the ever-growing needs of refugees.
We are currently facing critical times and CCR needs donors and supporters now more than ever so that CCR will not only survive this challenging time but also to thrive as they continue to protect refugee rights.