From 22-24 May 2008, people from across Canada and beyond met in Winnipeg to discuss refugee and immigrant issues at the Canadian Council for Refugees 2008 Spring Consultation on the theme: Our Past, Our Future: Our Children.
Several consultation sessions highlighted the best interests of the child. Since 2002, Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act requires decision-makers to take into account the best interests of the child. But is this happening? What improvements need to be made?
Other issues affecting refugee and immigrant youth, including the repayment of costly transportation loans, challenges affecting refugee and immigrant youth in schools and issues relating to family reunification were also key topics of discussion and action.
Resolutions were adopted on a number of issues, including temporary foreign workers’ access to permanent residence, transportation loans and the requirement of the father’s consent for family reunification for children.
The resolutions adopted by CCR members at the consultation can be found at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/resmay08.htm
A report on the Winnipeg Consultation will be available on the CCR website shortly.
In mid-May, the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration issued its recommendation that the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) amendments in Bill C-50 (the budget bill) be removed from that bill. This was also what the CCR recommended when representatives presented arguments before the Committee in April.
You can find the Standing Committee report, which is addressed to the Finance Committee that is studying Bill C-50, at http://cmte.parl.gc.ca/cmte/CommitteePublication.aspx?SourceId=240113
For news stories on the Committee decision and others who advocate that amendments to the IRPA be considered separately from the budget bill, see:
‘MPs want immigration amendments in a new bill’, Toronto Star, 21 May 2008, http://www.thestar.com/article/428089
The CCR has developed a number of resources outlining concerns over the proposed amendments, frequently asked questions about the changes, as well as a letter that organizations can use to write to the Prime Minister. These can be found on the CCR website at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/c50faq.htm
On 12 May, the Senate Committee on Human Rights held hearings on Bill C-280, the bill that would compel implementation of the Refugee Appeal Division. The groups present (CCR, Amnesty International, KAIROS, Canadian Bar Association, Barreau du Québec) all urged the Committee to pass the bill without further delay or amendment.
Further hearings will delay matters. If you are invited as a witness, we encourage you to decline the invitation and urge the Committee instead to move quickly to pass the bill.
It continues to be important to meet with and write to Senators, urging them to press for rapid passage of Bill C-280. You can find the list of members of the Committee on Human Rights (who are the top priority to reach) at: http://tinyurl.com/6nprro
For more information on RAD campaign action, please see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/eng/campaigns/RADaction.htm
In May 2008, the Auditor General published its audit on the government’s immigration detention and removals activities, an update of a 2003 audit. The 2008 report, and the media response to it, were characterized by a number of the same distortions witnessed five years ago, namely:
- A failure to consider the human and financial costs of detaining people unnecessarily.
- An unfair and damaging assumption that immigrants subject to removal orders are likely to represent a danger to the public.
- A distorted focus in the media on the numbers of immigrants subject to removal orders who are not accounted for.
- A failure to appreciate the extreme vulnerability of persons without status in Canada.
For CCR’s comments on the 2008 Auditor General’s report, including useful references, see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/AGresponse2008.htm
For the CCR’s comments on the 2003 Auditor General’s report, see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/AGresponse.html
The CCR is working on the second phase of the Pathways to Gender Justice Project, which aims to help organizations engage in gender justice internally, with staff and service users. A template is currently being developed to complement the CCR ’s Pathways to Gender Justice Toolkit
). The template will assist organizations and individuals working with and for immigrants, refugees and non-status people, in applying a gender-based approach to different areas of their organization, such as management, programs, services and frontline workers’ interventions.
The CCR is currently finalizing the first draft of the template and is looking for organizations from across Canada to pilot the template during the summer. Organizations’ input in the project is priceless as we aim to produce a tool that is easy to use and practical for people in the sector. If you or your organization would like to be involved in the pilot, or if you have feedback on the project, please contact the Project Coordinator, Yukyung Kim-Cho at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a backgrounder on the second phase of the project, please see http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/gendertemplatemay08.pdf
- Kiosk display board profiling the CCR and your organization
Are you setting up a display table at a local event? Here’s a new way to include the Canadian Council for Refugees and its activities in your display. Available with English- and French-language elements, this kit allows you to tailor your display to highlight your local activities and campaign priorities.
To order a copy of the electronic files to create a full-colour, trifold 24’’x 36’’ display board, send an email to Colleen French, email@example.com at the CCR office.
- Celebrate the CCR’s 30th anniversary using these resources
Looking to highlight the CCR’s 30th anniversary in your area? Look no further! Here are some materials that are available (or soon to be available) from the CCR office for you to use:
- Anniversary stickers (with the CCR’s 30th anniversary logo)
- Anniversary poster (18’’x 24’’), 30 years of building a home of justice for refugees and immigrants.
Also coming soon:
- Canadian Council for Refugees: Key issues, pamphlet.
- State of Refugees in Canada (revised 30th anniversary edition), booklet.
For more information about the CCR’s 30th anniversary and ideas for celebrating in your community, see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/30anniv/home.htm or click on the CCR 30th anniversary logo at: www.ccrweb.ca
Looking for other suggestions? Contact Colleen French, Communication and Networking Coordinator at: firstname.lastname@example.org for additional ideas and past successes.