Thanks to everyone who signed, collected and sent in signatures for the ‘Lives on Hold’ campaign! We’ve gathered more than 4,000 names that will be presented in the House of Commons on 9 May 2006 by Members of Parliament from the Bloc Québécois, the Liberal Party, and the New Democratic Party as part of a Lives on Hold Day of Action.
Take five minutes, take action! Call your MPs and encourage them to meet with delegations in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 9th. Call your local MPs to encourage them to meet with us! Representatives of the CCR, the Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnnes réfugiées et immigrantes (TCRI), the Ligue des droits et libertés and people from moratoria countries living in limbo will be meeting with MPs, calling on them to resolve the status of nationals of moratoria countries living in limbo.
- Let your local MP know that this is an important issue to you as their constituent! Ask her or him to meet with representatives of community groups in Ottawa on 9 May. You can find the phone number of your MP in Ottawa online - go to: http://www.parl.gc.ca/common/SenatorsMembers_index.asp?Language=E
- For ideas of what to say to your MP on the phone, check the Lives on Hold Day of Action webpage at: www.web.ca/ccr/livesonhold.html You find materials there to guide you on the issue.
Background to the ‘Lives on Hold’ campaign:
Canada imposes a moratorium on removals of people to certain countries because of situations of generalized insecurity there. This means that people from Afghanistan, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Iraq, Liberia, Rwanda and Zimbabwe are not deported, but they are living in legal limbo in Canada and unable to get on with their lives. The ‘Lives on Hold’ campaign calls on the Canadian government to grant permanent residence to nationals of moratoria countries who have been in Canada for three years or more.
The CCR, represented by Elizabeth McWeeny, Francisco Rico-Martinez and Janet Dench, met with the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Monte Solberg, on 25 April. It was a cordial, introductory meeting, at which the CCR emphasized our desire for open communication with the Minister and his office and our availability as a resource on a range of issues. The Minister responded positively and expressed interest in pursuing the dialogue.
The main issues raised concerned: the importance of speaking out publicly in favour of refugees and immigrants; the absence of the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD); family reunification; private sponsorship; and people without status.
During the meeting, the Minister was given a briefing paper on the challenges and opportunities provided by the Private Sponsorship of Refugees Program. The paper recommends that the Government of Canada support private sponsorship by increasingly significantly the annual target for privately sponsored refugees. It is available at www.web.ca/ccr/PSRPBriefing.pdf
Chantal Tie and Geraldine Sadoway will represent the CCR at the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Geneva as part of the Committee’s examination of Canada. The CCR has submitted a report on major concerns including family separation and how Canada discriminates against non-citizens in distributing government benefits and services and its failure to respect the rights of temporary workers to organize and bargain collectively. Watch for the Committee’s report on Canada at: www.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cescr/cescrs36.htm
For a media release announcing the report, see: www.web.ca/ccr/releaseCESCRMay06.html
For a copy of the submitted report, see: www.web.ca/ccr/CESCRsubmission.pdf
For supporting background information, see: www.web.ca/ccr/CESCRbackgrounder.pdf
Send your registration before 19 May to take advantage of the early registration fees for the International Conference on Refugee Rights in Toronto from 17-19 June 2006. Anyone interested in refugee rights and networking across borders to promote those rights is warmly invited. Members of non-governmental organizations from South Africa, Palestine, Kenya,
Lebanon, the Philippines, Brazil and Australia have already registered, to name just
a few! Special registration rates are available for refugee and youth delegates. For more details including the registration form, see www.web.ca/ccr/intconf.htm
The CCR Manifesto on Family Reunification was launched on Refugee Rights Day, April 4th 2006. Copies of the Manifesto are available on the CCR website at: www.web.ca/ccr/Manifesto.pdf (in English) and www.web.ca/ccr/Manifeste.pdf (en français).
We encourage your organization to endorse this important document and to have organizations in your community do so as well. The CCR has updated its campaign website to promote family reunification for refugee and immigrant families. Check it out at: www.reunification.ca. Stay tuned for upcoming Family Reunification campaign actions!
Thanks to everyone who organized and reported events to mark Refugee Rights Day, the 21st anniversary of the Singh decision in Canada:
In Halifax - University students, members of the World University Service of Canada (WUSC), the Halifax Coalition Against Poverty, Halifax Refugee Clinic staff and volunteers and refugee claimants were introduced to the refugee determination process touching on the refugee definition and a mock hearing followed by a discussion.
In Montreal - The Montreal City Mission, the McGill Law Human Rights Working Group, the CCR and others hosted discussion on the problem of family separation in Canada. The event featured Mariam, who has recently been reunited with her three children after more than three years apart, and Marie-Claire, who remains separated from her husband and children more than four years after she received refugee status in Canada. Mariam’s son Fadhir rapped about his experience of being separated from his mother.
In Toronto - Heather Lash of the FCJ Refugee Centre presented findings from a recent trip to Australia where she observed parallels between the anti-refugee agenda that is in place there and what is currently taking place here in Canada. The conversation afterwards set out to draw up an action plan to work against a similar agenda in Canada.
Across the country - The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee distributed more than 27,000 postcards petitioning Monte Solberg, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, to devote more resources to process applications of privately sponsored refugees overseas to reduce the backlog of applications as part of Refugee Sunday on 2 April 2006.