A Message On Refugee Rights Day


Toronto / April 4, 2024

Dear OCASI Family,

Today we recognize the thirty-ninth anniversary of the Singh decision which confirmed that refugees are protected by Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This day and what it represents -access to justice for all who are resident on this land, is more important than ever as we bear witness to unprecedented numbers of asylum seekers arriving on our shores seeking protection and refuge.

As a sector we have advocated for services for refugee claimants (asylum seekers) and have protested against government directives and policies that further their marginalization and at times result in their criminalization.

Many of us wept in anger and frustration as watched African asylum seekers, sleep on the bare sidewalks of downtown streets and and in the most tragic cases die outside of a shelter where they sought but did not find the required refuge.

We have cheered the successful movement that has ended the practice of using provincial jails for the detention of asylum seekers who have committed no crime.

Today, let us speak out against public policies that show generosity to some groups and not others while all are in similar seas of oppression, violence and need for protection. Let's demand fairness and equity from our policy makers and elected officials.

Here is a short statement from the Toronto Refugee Rights Day Committee, an adhoc group that is brought together by OCASI each year to commemorate this important day: https://bit.ly/4cH2fBY.

What are you doing to commemorate this day? What commitments are you making to ensure a soft landing for all who seek refuge on our Canadian shores?

Walking in Solidarity