Commemorate Refugee Rights Month 2016 – Toronto



Media Release

April 1, 2016/Toronto – A Toronto coalition of community-based organizations is commemorating Refugee Rights Awareness Month 2016 in Toronto at a public forum on Monday April 4 2016, from 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm at Women’s College Hospital, and by calling for:

- Faster family reunification for refugees so that children don’t have to wait for years before reuniting with their parents;
- Resettle refugees from all parts of the world, including by eliminating restrictions and delays in the Private Sponsorship of Refugees program; and
- Eliminate the Designated Countries of Origin regime thus ending discrimination of refugees such as Roma, women fleeing gender-based persecution and LGBT refugees.

The Forum will feature reading of the Mayor’s Proclamation on Refugee Rights Awareness Month by Councillor Joe Mihevc, and panel discussion on detentions, the refugee system and refugee health.

“This year, when so many people fleeing persecution are being welcomed into Canada, Refugee Rights Day provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on the fact that protecting refugees is at heart about recognizing refugees as human beings. Like all human beings, their basic rights need to be respected” said Loly Rico, President of the Canadian Council for Refugees.

Refugee Rights Day is commemorated on April 4 every year in Canada to bring attention to the 1985 Supreme Court of Canada ruling recognizing the rights of refugee claimants under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“The April 4 commemoration is an opportunity to remember how far we have come in protecting refugee rights in Canada, and also reflect on how much further we need to go in eliminating all aspects of racial and other forms of discrimination in our refugee system” said Debbie Douglas - Executive Director of OCASI – Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants.

Family reunification for refugees is even slower than Canada’s Family Class processing. Many children wait three years before being able to reunite with their refugee parent in Canada. Some children are separated from both their parents. Many are in countries at war or in precarious situations in a country of asylum.

Canadians have offered a warm welcome to thousands of Syrian refugees. We also need to open the doors to refugees from other regions and offer all potential sponsors predictable and stable pathways to do so. According to the UNHCR, a third of the world’s refugees in need of resettlement are in Africa. We need to apply the lessons from the Syrian experience to make Canada’s resettlement program work more effectively for more refugees.

Refugee claimants from Designated Countries of Origin go through a process with such short timelines that they do not have a reasonable opportunity to prove their refugee claims. This is discriminatory treatment that particularly affects Roma, women fleeing gender-based persecution and LGBT refugees.

The Toronto coalition of organizations has organized several exciting events to commemorate Refugee Rights Month 2016 and to bring attention and awareness to the three concerns above.

A full event listing can be found at this link:

Toronto Refugee Rights Month planning committee:

Bangladeshi-Canadian Community Services | Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture | Centre for Refugee Studies, York University | Colour of Poverty – Colour of Change | FCJ Refugee Centre | Mennonite New Life Centre of Toronto | OCASI – Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants | Quaker Committee for Refugees | Sojourn House | Osgoode Hall Law School | Salvadorean Canadian Association | York University Syria Response and Refugee Initiative

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Amy Casipullai – Senior Policy and Communications Coordinator
OCASI – Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants
tel: 416-322-4950 x 239 cell: 416-524-4950