Refugee claimants: comment on use of terms

The CCR promotes the use of “refugee claimant” to describe a person who is seeking Canada’s protection at our borders, or within the country. Similarly, for the process, we prefer refugee claim process, or refugee determination process.

These are the terms traditionally used in Canada.

However, in recent years, the Canadian government has started using the terms “asylum seekers” or “asylum claimants.” The CCR is opposed to this shift. These terms are not used by the legislation (the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act never uses the word “asylum”, although “asile” is used in French).

Using a term that includes “refugee” helps to highlight the commonalities between refugee claimants and resettled refugees. Conversely, omitting the term “refugee” can reinforce misperceptions that refugee claimants are not refugees or are less deserving of Canada’s protection. In fact, most refugee claimants are refugees, as we find out through the refugee determination process: they don’t become refugees because we say they are – they already are refugees before we find it out.