18-20 November, Victoria, B.C.

The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) hosts Consultations every fall and spring, in different parts of Canada.  Recent host cities have been Victoria, Montreal, Winnipeg and Ottawa.  The 3-day Consultations are frequently attended by more than 300 people and they include plenary sessions, concurrent workshops, and social activities.  The Consultations serve various purposes. One is that of information-exchange, training, networking, and policy and strategy development among those already involved in services to refugees and immigrants. Two, as an ideal way for newcomers, either to Canada and/or to this field, to become involved. If you would like to attend the next Consultation, look under Meetings for details about the next one.

This page is to give a snapshot of what happened at our Fall 2004 Consultation, including some observations from newer participants.  


The Consultation took place at Harbour Towers Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia from 18 to 20 November 2004.  The theme was: "A Light in the Window - Is Canada a safe haven - Past, present, future?"  The theme was proposed by local members in Victoria, and took into account the current context and preoccupations of our members.  There were approximately 360 participants, who came from a wide range of Canadian communities and were a mix of refugees and immigrants, staff and volunteers at organizations serving newcomers and representing ethnocultural communities, as well as lawyers, representatives of various levels of government and of UNHCR, academics, faith communities, social services and others involved in refugee and immigrant issues.

Some of the many workshop topics were:

a) Patricia Cordon, with the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre in Victoria, B.C., said the Consultation affected her in 3 ways:

As a Refugee : It was very helpful for me to have a better understanding that I was not alone, that so many people are going through the same ordeal that I went through and seeing the support from each member to another assured me that there is hope in human kind.
As an NGO Member: Totally a learning experience, the consultation gave new tools to help my clients. Gave me a better understanding of the Canadian System and especially the opportunity to meet with wonderful people doing wonderful work.
The most important part, as a human being: A confirmation that as humans we have lots in common, that does not matter where you are from or what color your skin is, what matters is that we can work together that we have just one common goal to have and share a better world where our civil and human rights are respected.   However in order to do it we need to work together and CCR is a real example of unity and solidarity.  Thank you CCR especially the   "Amina Mallko Fund" for giving me this Unforgettable experience.

b) Mary Nyaoso, with the Mennonite Central Committee in St.Catherine’s, Ontario, said:

As a recipient of the Amina Malko Fund, I was able to attend a total of three meetings during the year… (the Fall Consultation) was one at which I felt confident enough to participate, both in the discussions at the Core Group level, and as co-host at the Orientation Session for new participants.  It was also the meeting at which I volunteered to work as a member of Anti-Racism Core Group.
Attending the CCR meetings for the first time can be a very intimidating and over-whelming experience.  I am happy that the Executive Committee realizes this fact and has come up with initiatives such as the Mentorship program and Orientation Sessions at meetings, intended for new participants…the mentorship process should be longer…New participants should also be encouraged to continue to ask questions about the CCR and its activities, and to build learning relationships with their mentors outside the three meetings.  I also hope that more people will come forward and volunteer as Mentors.
I look forward to being part of the CCR in the fight for refugee rights.

c) Zaid Kafi, with the Association for New Canadians in St. John’s Newfoundland, had this to say:

Prior to my arrival in Canada I didn’t have any idea about the Canadian Council for Refugees, although I worked and volunteered with different agencies helping refugees and displaced outside Canada. When I went to the first Working Group meeting I was only `five months old`in Canada… I knew the mandate of the CCR but not how it how it works, so I talked to people randomly and I found some people very helpful and friendly.  I used the first meeting in Montreal in May to get to know people, and the working groups in September I knew how to choose workshops, and why, and IN VICTORIA EVERYTHING WAS CLEAR and I decided to be involved in one of the Core Groups.  
Now I would like to be more involved, and I will write to people asking them questions, because I still confuse a lot of things in the CCR but attending Consultations weas really good for me.  If I am allowed to comment, the CCR should be more active overseas.

All of the above participated in the CCR in 2004 with the help of the CCR Amina Malko fund for refugee participation.



Orientation for new participants

Opening plenary

Opening plenary with Tom Jensen, Asst Deputy Minister of BC Ministry of Community, Aboriginal and Women’s Services; Bob Orr, Director General of Refugees Branch, Citizenship and Immigration Canada; local host Jean MacRae; and Amy Casipullai, CCR Vice President.

Participants at plenary
Participants at plenary

Youth at AGM
Youth participants presenting at Annual General Meeting

Impacts on children

Workshop: Impacts on Children of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
Resettlement workshop

Workshop: Introduction to Canada’s refugee resettlement program
Participants at the mike

Participants at microphone

Fundraiser - Participants having fun


Fundraiser – Executive members dancing

Past and President Presidents
Past and current Presidents of the CCR (Nick Summers and Kemi Jacobs)

Local organizing committee
3 members of Local Organizing Committee (Karin Scarth,
Jean McRae and Mavis De Girolamo, all with ICA, or Intercultural Association Victoria)

Big thanks go to the following people and organizations for organizing the Consultation:

ICA (Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria)
Suki Athwal, Winnie Chow, Mavis De Girolamo, Winnie Lee, Jean McRae, Alvaro Moreno, Tomoko Okada and
Karin Scarth

Victoria Coalition for Survivors of Torture
Peter Golden

Timothy Welsh

Sherman Chan

And 21 volunteers – A big
THANK YOU to you all!

And to the following that helped fund/resource it:

CCR members direct policy within the organization by proposing resolutions, that are discussed and possibly adopted at the General Meeting of CCR Members held at the end of the Consultations. At the Fall 2004 meeting, a total of 17 resolutions were adopted.  In addition, the CCR for first time formally recognized action requests not requiring resolutions, of which 14 were registered.