How to act if refugees come to Canada on a boat

What To Do If People Come To Canada On A Boat And Ask To Be Admitted As Refugees (via funkaoshi):

1. Don’t panic!

Take a deep breath.

2. Remember that there is a process in place to deal with this issue.

According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada:

The Canadian refugee system has two main parts:
– the Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program, for people seeking protection from outside Canada; and
– the In-Canada Asylum Program for people making refugee protection claims from within Canada.

If you can see the boat full of people from your house, that means they will likely be processed under the In-Canada Asylum Program. To calm your fears, Citizenship and Immigration Canada further explains that:

Refugees come from around the world and many make their claims in Canada….The asylum program works to provide refugee protection to people in Canada who are at risk of torture, or cruel or unusual punishment in their home countries.

Not everyone is eligible to seek asylum. For example, people convicted of serious criminal offences and people who have had previous refugee claims denied by Canada are not accepted.

3. Don’t kill asylum seekers.

Even if you are still alarmed after reading about Canada’s refugee process, don’t kill these strange newcomers, regardless of what the Toronto Sun helpfully suggests.  Killing asylum seekers is a violation of their rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

If you look carefully at your copy of the Charter, you’ll notice that some rights are only for Canadian citizens (like the right to vote, article 3) and some rights are for “everyone” (like the right to life, liberty and security of the person, article 7).

Do asylum seekers and refugee claimants who arrive in Canada on a leaky boat count as “everyone” under Canadian law? The Supreme Court of Canada answered this very question in their April 4, 1985 decision in Singh v. Minister of Employment and Immigration. According to the Supreme Court, foreign nationals in Canada have Charter rights, so killing them would be illegal.

Read the rest at Kanakaweb

Racializing assumptions of Canadian multiculturalism exposed by Toronto protests against Sri Lanka

In “The War in Sri Lanka and the Left in Toronto”, Fathima Cader and Noaman Ali write (May 17, 2009):

The recent burst of mass mobilizations by sections of the Canadian-Tamil community in Toronto has brought to the fore several contradictions concerning the conflict in Sri Lanka and its presence in and connection to Canada. Mainstream media’s responses to the protests have been overwhelmingly racialist, exposing many of the limits of Canadian multiculturalism. In order for Canadian multiculturalism to accept any given group of people as a cultural community, it must define that group by differentiating it from a supposedly mainstream Canadian identity. This focalising Canadian identity—in effect a non-identity—is white and middle-class. Thus, when the Toronto Star publishes an editorial entitled “Protesters vs. the public” [1] it effectively notes that the protesters are not part of the public by pitting (Tamil) protesters against the (Canadian) public. Rather than focusing on the war, media outlets have focused on the inconvenience posed to commuters, thereby shifting attention away from deaths in Sri Lanka to traffic regulations in Canada. Consequently, responses to the protests have largely demonstrated pernicious xenophobia. For instance, in the Toronto Sun, Peter Worthington argues that not using excessive force (e.g., water cannons) against Tamil protesters who block streets is tantamount to “reverse racism” against white Canadians. [2]

Read the rest of this awesome post at nomes or run like the wind.

(Indirectly via Voices in Exile)


Related posts:

The Lion Defeats the Tiger: The past and future of Sri Lanka

Democracy Now! reports the latest news from Sri Lanka, and interviews Ahilan Kadirgamar, a Sri Lankan Tamil activist and a spokesperson of the Sri Lanka Democracy Forum.

In the latter part of the video (3:06), Kadirgamar explains the history of the Sri Lankan government and the creation of the LTTE, and offers his opinion on the future of Tamils and other minorities in Sri Lanka.

I have excerpted his answers to common questions below, but the full transcript of the video is available at Democracy Now!

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Tamil Eelam flag vs. Tamil Tiger flag

On the left is the flag of the Tamil Eelam. On the right is the flag of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a.k.a., the Tamil Tigers.

Tamil Eelam flag
Flag of Tamil Eelam
Tamil Tiger flag
Flag of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

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Tamil Canadians chant, march, and block a Toronto highway in protest.

The video below was captured by a biker who was close to the demonstration. The protesters flew large, bright-red Tamil Eelam flags with some Canadian flags interspersed. Some of the protesters marched ahead with a banner that said, “SRI LANKA, STOP THE GENOCIDE”. Police stood by, and the chanting of the protesters alternated with the sound of the police siren. Later in the video, the protesters started running and shouting down the street with flags flying.

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There are more Sri Lankans in Canada than in the United States.

In 2006, about 103 625 Canadians and residents of Canada were of Sri Lankan ethnic origin. Canada has admitted far more immigrants from Sri Lanka than the United States. Below is a graph showing the total number of Sri Lankan immigrants admitted to Canada versus the United States from 1991 to 2003.

Total Immigration admitted to Canada and the United States from Sri Lanka, 1991-2003

In the period of 1991 to 1995, Canada admitted 37 345 immigrants from Sri Lanka, while the United States admitted only 6 492. This means that Canada admitted about 475% more Sri Lankan immigrants than the United States during that period. While the total number of Sri Lankan immigrants in Canada is already several times greater than that of the United States, given that the total population of Canada is about one tenth the population of the United States, the number of Sri Lankan immigrants admitted to Canada per capita during that period would be about 58 times that of the United States.

Within Canada, about 138,675 people spoke Tamil, and 19,830 spoke Sinhalese in 2006. In Toronto of the same year, 110,450 people spoke Tamil, and 12,690 spoke Sinhalese.


Related links:

Tamil Canadians rally against the genocide occurring in Sri Lanka.

As many as 10,000 Tamil Canadians gathered in downtown Toronto on Friday to raise awareness about the genocide occurring in Sri Lanka. The protestors of colour were against the Sri Lankan government killing innocent Tamil civilians, and formed a massive human chain, creating a traffic gridlock around Union Station.

Unfortunately, CBC News incorrectly reported that they were protesting the Sri Lankan government’s offensive against the Tamil Tigers.

Here are some comments by the protestors on the misleading CBC News article:

Jago_Combo writes (emphasis mine):

This protest is not about the Tamil Tigers. This is about the Tamil Civilians in Sri Lanka who are being killed in alarming numbers everyday by the Sri Lankan government – we are talkign about ordinary civilians.

We need the support of Canada to put pressure on the Sri Lankan government to adopt a ceasfire and bring humanitarian aid to the Tamil civilians which the Sri Lankan government has restricted. If we sit idly and not do anything, we are ignoring a genocide in progress that is being perpetrated by the singalese government.

If your ancestors were being innocently killed and driven out of their native country, wouldn’t you do something?? This issue is more important than the slumping economy – it is about savings lives and protecting human rights.
Please Canada, take a lead on this issue and call for a ceasefire!

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