The arrest in September of refugee worker Janet Hinshaw-Thomas, charged with people-smuggling, has caused shock waves through the refugee-serving community, as people realize that they too could be prosecuted for their work helping refugees. Although the charges against Ms Hinshaw-Thomas were dropped, the threat of such charges will continue to hang over the heads of those who help refugees until the law is changed.
The Canadian Council for Refugees has launched the ‘Proud to aid and abet refugees’ campaign, designed to ensure that no one will again face criminal prosecution for helping refugees, on a humanitarian basis.
The CCR invites organizations to register with this campaign and to take action by writing letters. Individuals are encouraged to have organizations they are connected with register with the campaign and to collect petition signatures. Help us ensure that the law is changed so that no one else acting on humanitarian motives will be charged for aiding and abetting refugees!
For more information on the ‘Proud to aid and abet refugees’ campaign and how you can get involved, check out the campaign webpage at: www.ccrweb.ca/aidandabet.htm
A CCR delegation presented to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration on the need to take more action to protect displaced Iraqis in the Middle East. The delegation presented the CCR’s call for action that was adopted by the membership at the Fall Consultation in November 2007.
To read the call for action and further information on refugees fleeing Iraq, see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/iraqicall.pdf.
Organizations are invited to endorse the CCR call and urge the Canadian government to take more decisive action to respond to Iraqi refugees.
The House of Commons adjourned for the holidays without passing Bill C-3, a bill that provides for the continued use of secret evidence in both security certificates and other immigration proceedings (IRPA s. 86). We have an opportunity over the coming weeks to urge MPs to vote against this bill which involves the violation of non-citizens' right to fundamental justice. The House will reconvene at the end of January.
The CCR’s position on C-3 is available at http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/C-3submission.pdf - there is also a summary at http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/C3summary.pdf.
The CCR calls for the elimination of the security certificate process and opposes the use of secret evidence.
Contact your Member of Parliament, especially members of the Liberal Party, the Bloc Québécois and the Conservative Party. Urge them to make a public statement of opposition to the use of secret evidence and to eliminate the security certificate process.
Contact Senators from your region regarding concerns over C-3 and security certificate legislation. Contact information for all Senators is available at: http://tinyurl.com/eyuxb
Bill C-280 has spent several weeks at second reading in the Senate. It is crucial that it pass all three readings as soon as possible – an election call would mean the bill would die if it is not already approved by the Senate. Please contact Senators to encourage them to pass the bill quickly.
For more information about the Refugee Appeal Division, check out the campaign webpage at:
In 2008, the Canadian Council for Refugees will celebrate 30 years of promoting refugee rights and newcomer settlement in Canada. We invite all CCR members to join in the anniversary activities, which will highlight the theme “Looking back and moving forward”.
The goals of the 30th anniversary activities are:
- To educate the public on refugee and immigrant rights
- To promote membership in the CCR
- To raise funds to continue and increase the work of the CCR
Activities will include:
- An event at the spring consultation in Winnipeg
- A gala event and fundraiser at the fall consultation in Toronto
- A series of events, big and small, across the country (can we organize 30 events?)
Here is how you can get involved right NOW!:
- Design a logo for the CCR’s 30th anniversary!
We are calling all artists to design a logo that reflects what the CCR is all about. Designs should be easy to reproduce and work in both English and French.
Deadline to enter: 15 January. Deadline to submit logos: 31 January
- Have your organization sponsor one of the CCR’s 30 years!
Member organizations are invited to ‘sponsor’ a year, at a cost of $1,000 per year. Promotional materials will include a list of sponsoring organizations in a virtual honour wall. The money will be used, in part, as seed money to support the 30th anniversary activities.
Please respond by 31 January 2008. (If you have a preferred year, don’t delay – several years have already been sponsored!).
To respond to these calls, or to provide other suggestions, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org (note: new email address at ccrweb.ca)
Do you want to be part of efforts to promote rights for refugees?
Want to participate in in-depth discussions on pressing issues affecting refugees and immigrants in Canada?
Looking for an opportunity to share information and strategies with others from across Canada?
Come to the CCR Winter Working Group meetings in Toronto!
The CCR Winter Working Group meetings will be held in Toronto on 22 and 23 February 2008. All CCR members are encouraged to attend the Working Group meetings, which are also open to others interested. The meetings are closed to media and government.
The meeting schedule is:
- FRIDAY 22 FEBRUARY: 9:30am - 5pm
Inland Protection Working Group meeting and
Immigration and Settlement Working Group meeting
- SATURDAY 23 FEBRUARY: 9:30am - 5pm
Overseas Protection and Sponsorship Working Group meeting
Location: To be announced in the next issue of the CCR Chronicle (1 February 2008)
The CCR will also be holding a roundtable roundtable meeting with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) on the morning of Monday 25 February. Delegates of CCR member organizations interested in representing the CCR at this meeting must contact Janet at email@example.com by Friday 8 February.
- Facing Facts
The CCR’s popular pamphlet ‘Facing Facts: Myth and misconceptions about refugees and immigrants in Canada’ is now available in hard copy.
We encourage you to consider ordering some copies to have available at your agency. Fill out the order form linked below to order mass quantities. The following prices are per unit:
Less than 100 copies - $0.37 per copy
Between 100 and 2,000 copies - $0.31 per copy
Over 2,000 copies - $0.26 per copy
Download a copy of the order form at: www.ccrweb.ca/documents/FFactsorder.pdf
You can also download an electronic version of the Facing Facts pamphlet at www.ccrweb.ca/documents/FFacts.pdf
For the accompanying Powerpoint presentation, see: www.ccrweb.ca/documents/FFactsEN.ppt
- National Task Force on Professionalization in the Settlement Sector
The Task Force on Professionalization in the Settlement Sector has recently produced a document promoting its project “Enhancing Settlement Sector Capacity”. Coordinated by CCR, the Task Force is a partnership with provincial and regional settlement umbrella organizations, aiming to promote the professionalization of both settlement practitioners and settlement service agencies.
A document explaining the project and its goals is available at http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/professionalization.htm
- Protecting the rights of migrant workers in Canada
In recent years, Canada has been increasingly relying on migrant workers admitted on temporary work permits. To address concerns about the protection of these workers’ rights, CCR delegates discussed this issue with Members of Parliament as part of the National Lobby Day held in Ottawa on November 28. The CCR urged that the immigration program be re-oriented away from reliance on migrant workers, in order to focus on immigrants and refugees granted permanent status. We also recommended that more be done to protect the rights of temporary workers.
An information sheet distributed to MPs is available online at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/migrantworkers.htm
- Resolutions, November 2007
The resolutions adopted by the CCR membership in November 2007 are now available at http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/resnov07.htm
A long-time member of the CCR affiliated with the Thunder Bay D.O.O.R.S. to New Life Centre and coordinator of the sponsorship program for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Thunder Bay, Elizabeth McWeeny is this month’s ‘Face of the CCR’. Following her recent election as CCR President for a second two-year term, she offers us her thoughts at the halfway point in her presidency.
In the last two years the lack of political will from the minority government in Ottawa to act constructively on issues affecting refugees and immigrants has been one of the greatest challenges for the CCR, according to Liz. She notes that the CCR’s continued persistence in raising issues with bureaucrats and Parliamentarians has kept our concerns on the agenda, but more contentious points “have been met with silence and inaction.” In addition to these obstacles, countering the shift to a focus on ‘public/national security’ at the expense of human rights, especially for refugees, migrants and other non-citizens, is an uphill battle. “CCR’s work in building public awareness and support for refugee rights, especially in the unfriendly political context we face today, will be a huge challenge,” she says.
Initiatives within the CCR that Liz will be pushing for in the coming years include: increasing the active participation of youth advocates and the Youth Network within the CCR so that “issues faced by refugee and immigrant youth become an integrated part of our agenda and are also highlighted to government as being unique and demanding attention”; and the development of the CCR Policy on Anti-Oppression to sensitize ourselves on issues that encompass all forms of oppression faced by those refugees and immigrants who are marginalized and excluded from the full benefits enjoyed by others.
And how are we going to see these plans through? To Liz, “the CCR IS its members and we all rely on the strength, energy and expertise of each other to make our work successful.”
We look forward to working with you all in 2008!