With the situation for asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border becoming harsher every day, we are eager to support and collaborate with organisations working on the ground in any way that we can.
This December 10, Human Rights Day, the City of Toronto’s Planning and Housing Committee is considering the City’s new HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan. In a first for Toronto, the plan expressly recognizes housing as fundamental human right essential to human dignity and wellbeing, and sets out a number of actions and targets to progressively realize the right to housing for residents across the city. If Council votes to fund the plan through the 2020 budget process, Toronto will have a new framework for housing policy that centres people and reorients the City’s priorities towards urgent action on affordable housing.
At the federal level too, 2019 saw Canada take major steps towards recognizing, protecting, and fulfilling the human right to adequate housing. In June, the federal government adopted the National Housing Strategy Act, a piece of legislation that explicitly recognizes housing as a fundamental human right and commits Canadian governments to maintaining and making progress against a national housing strategy, with clearly delineated targets.
To mark an extraordinary year for housing rights in Canada and in Toronto, we wanted to capture the possibilities opened up by the recognition of the right to housing. We reached out to ten housing advocates across the city to ask them what the right to housing means to them.
As part of the Holiday Season, FCJ Refugee Center has started to sell Christmas trees at Ikea north York location
FCJ Refugee Centre is making a call to everyone on this season to reflect generosity by the work the Centre does in making the society a better place for vulnerable populations.
On this giving season, FCJ Refugee Centre calls on everyone to consider making a gift to show your support to refugees and other precarious migrants.
You can support us buying a Christmas tree at IKEA NORTH YORK .Every time that you buy a CHRISTMAS TREE at this location, you will be supporting refugees and other vulnerable populations
ADDRESS: 15 Provost Dr, Toronto, ON M2K 2X9
Read all our updates: events and initiatives for the upcoming month:
Museum without a Home (Nov 6): Join us for a memorable evening filled with art, food and music to celebrate the strength of refugees and the kindness of those who welcome them to their new communities.
Showing up for refugees (Nov 4): From November 4th to 8th the Federal Court of Canada will hear a challenge to the designation of the U.S. as a safe third country for refugees.
Human Trafficking and Migrant Worker Exploitation in our Backyard (Nov 22): This forum is a crucial opportunity to discuss the many migrant workers who come to Canada and whom are subject to labour trafficking and exploitation, due to systemic shortfalls of Canadian immigration and labour laws.
Demonstrators to rally outside Toronto court in support of legal challenge to
flawed Safe Third Country Agreement
From November 4th to 8th the Federal Court of Canada will hear a challenge to the designation of the U.S. as a safe third country for refugees. The court will hear that sending refugee claimants back to the US violates Canadian law, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and Canada’s binding international human rights obligations.
The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR), Amnesty International (AI) and The Canadian Council of Churches (CCC), alongside an individual litigant and her children, initiated the legal challenge in July 2017. The hearings are taking place at the Federal Court of Canada in Toronto, at 180 Queen Street West.
“We are asking the court to look at the impact of the Safe Third Country Agreement on women, men and children who can’t find safety in the U.S. and to assess the legality of Canada sending them back to detention and potential deportation to persecution,” said Claire Roque, CCR President. “The impacts are particularly severe for women, because of U.S. policies that close the door on women fleeing gender-based violence. The conclusion is clear to us: the U.S. cannot be considered a safe country for refugees.”
“The Canadian Council of Churches has long advocated that every human being who is physically present in Canada has a legal right to life, liberty and security of person under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” said Peter Noteboom, General Secretary of The Canadian Council of Churches. “The U.S.-Canada Safe Third Country Agreement stands in the way of guaranteeing those legal rights.”
“The time for Canada to rely on the adequacy of the U.S. protection regime has come to a definitive end,” said Justin Mohammed, Human Rights Law and Policy Campaigner at Amnesty International. “In the absence of action on the part of Canada’s elected representatives to acknowledge the serious shortcomings of the U.S. refugee protection system, we now turn to the courts to ensure that Canada’s domestic and international legal obligations are upheld.”
The organizations and individuals leading the legal challenge have submitted extensive evidence that the U.S. system fails in many ways to protect refugees, and that people turned back from Canada under the Safe Third Country Agreement are at risk of being sent in turn by the U.S. to face persecution, torture and even death in their home countries.
Under the Safe Third Country Agreement, implemented in 2004, refugees who present themselves at a Canada-U.S. border post seeking to make a refugee claim in Canada are, with limited exceptions, denied access to the Canadian refugee system and immediately returned to the United States. Since the Agreement does not apply to people who cross into Canada other than at an official border post, people in need of safety in Canada have been crossing in significant numbers in between ports of entry. Withdrawing from the Agreement would not only ensure that Canada meets its legal obligations, but would also allow people to present themselves in an orderly way at ports of entry, ending irregular crossings.
A rally will be held outside the Court (180 Queen Street West) in support of the legal challenge on Monday, November 4 at 12:30pm.
Milen Minchev, Communication Coordinator, Canadian Council for Refugees, 514-277-7223, ext.1, 514-602-2098 (cell), email@example.com
Lucy Scholey, Media Relations, Amnesty International Canada (English branch), 613-744-7667 ext. 236, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Nicole Roccas, Communications Coordinator, The Canadian Council of Churches, 416-972-9494 (preferred), email@example.com
Migrants are often vulnerable to abuse by their employers and are afraid to speak up or form unions due to their precarious immigration status. Undocumented migrants, in particular, are reluctant to access essential services such as public health, education, and shelters due to fear of detention and deportation, exacerbating their vulnerability and isolation from the rest of society.
FREE Volunteer Training Workshops: Saturday, October 26th 2019
Migrants Resource Centre Canada (MRCC) invites you to a workshop:
MIGRANTS’ RIGHT TO HEALTH & WELL-BEING
Saturday, October 26, 2019
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
MRCC Office: 2482 Dufferin Street, Unit 207, Toronto
This workshop will focus on healthcare as a fundamental human right that should be accessible by all, irrespective of their immigration status, and the City of Toronto’s designation as a Sanctuary City and what it means for migrants living in Toronto.
Lunchand snacks will be provided.
For more info or to register: 1-866-275-4046, firstname.lastname@example.org
Online registration: https://forms.gle/5dNwhDcmMA9SvUsz8
Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/2567720200002482/?active_tab=about
Thanks to your support we were able to make it at the Youth Action Gathering, YAG.
The YAG was hosted by the Canadian Council for Refugees in Moncton, New Brunswick and we had a wonderful time! In preparation for this trip, we did a lot of fundraising including hosting two community dinners, and the creation and selling of personalized Tote Bags!
At the YAG, members of the group had the chance to participate in bilingual workshops learning about leadership skills, community engagement, and advocating for the rights of all newcomer youth living in Canada. As well as attending the Moncton AfroFest Gala, and attending Hopewell Rocks – a once in a lifetime opportunity!
We were able to make it thanks to the support from each one of you!!
Help us to get our FCJ Youth Network to the Youth Action Gatherings (YAG) .
We are raising funds to cover the cost to travel to attend The Youth Action Gatherings (YAG) in Moncton, New Brunswick in October.
The Youth Action Gatherings (YAG) bring together immigrant and refugee youth from across Canada to share, learn and together strategize about how to address common challenges. The YAG is a space where newcomer youth across Canada build a community of support that persists even when they go back home.
Join us at our dinner for our FCJ Youth Network, on Wednesday September 25th, at 7 o’clock. We will be preparing a delicious spaghetti dinner, with organic local ingredients, and selling tote bags as well! The cost for dinner will be $15 and the tote bags will be $15 as well! Your support will make the difference in helping us reach our goal!!
CONFIRMATION for dinner :
- EVENTBRITE : https://fcjyouthdinnerfundraising.eventbrite.ca
- Or contact directly Natasha at email@example.com
You are also welcome to support us through the GoFundMe campaign
Please contact Natasha at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions!
The Ontario Coalition of Service Providers for Refugee Claimants Calls on the Provincial Government to Reverse Its Plan to Eliminate the Transition Child Benefit (TCB).
The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services has announced plans to eliminate Transition Child Benefit (TCB) as of November 1, 2019. TCB provides families with up to a maximum of $230 per child per month. This monthly amount is a lifeline to ensure that children are protected and cared for. Losing this benefit will have devastating consequences, not only for refugee families, but also for other children whose parents are on Ontario Works (OW) or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and currently receiving TCB.
Since some families are not eligible for the Ontario Child Benefit (OCB) or the closely-aligned Canada Child Benefit (CCB), the Transition Child Benefit was set up to ensure that the children of those parents who are receiving Ontario Works (OW) or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) but ineligible for other child benefits would not be without money for food, clothing and basic needs. The removal of TCB stands as a threat to the health and wellbeing of vulnerable families across the province. Refugee claimants will be disproportionately affected if TCB is eliminated, since they are not eligible to receive other benefits for their children based on their immigration status.
Learn about the consequences of the Ontario Government’s failure to provide support for the basic needs of children.
To read the complete letter please click here.
The letter is signed by members of the Ontario Coalition of Service Providers:
The Ontario Coalition of Service Providers for Refugee Claimants
Adam House, Toronto
Angela Rose House, Windsor
Carty House, Ottawa
Casa El Norte, Fort Erie
Casa Maria Refugee Homes, Peterborough
Chez Marie, Fort Erie
Christie Refugee Welcome Centre, Toronto
COSTI Immigrant Services, Toronto
FCJ Refugee Centre, Toronto
Fort Erie Multi-Cultural Centre, Fort Erie
Matthew House, Fort Erie
Matthew House, Ottawa
Matthew House, Toronto
Matthew House, Windsor
Mennonite Coalition for Refugee Support, Kitchener
Micah House, Hamilton
Quaker Refugee Committee, Toronto
Romero House, Toronto
Silas Hill Home for Refugees, Toronto
Sojourn House, Toronto
The 519 Church Street Community Centre, Toronto
U.S. President Donald Trump regularly asserts that the United States is under attack by foreign invaders and that he is the only one willing to stop them. Who are these invaders? Central American asylum seekers, mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
Amnesty International calls this region “one of the world’s most violent places, with more people killed there than in most conflict zones globally.” Médecins Sans Frontières says that the “violence suffered by people in (these countries) is comparable to the experience in war zones where MSF has been present for decades.”
Much of this violence is caused by criminal gangs, for whom kidnapping, extortion and murder are standard practice. Gender-based violence — including sexual violence and intimate partner violence — is also extremely common. Law enforcement officials in these countries are often complicit in both gang violence and gender-based violence. Even where they’re not complicit, they are generally ineffective in stopping the violence.
Not surprisingly, hundreds of thousands of people have fled these countries, exercising their right to seek asylum.
Raftsmen set off across the Suchiate River carrying unregulated people from Guatemala into Talisman, Mexico in June 2019 headed ultimately for the United States. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)
The Trump administration, however, has done everything it can to discourage these asylum seekers from coming to U.S., despite international legal obligations to provide protection to refugees.
Some of the harsher measures include: forcibly separating asylum-seeking families, detaining children and adult asylum-seekers in inhumane conditions, militarizing the southern border, firing tear gas across the border at women and children asylum seekers, declaring that people facing gang violence or gender-based violence do not qualify for asylum, and, of course, building (or at least talking about building) a border wall.
Inspired by Canada
The United States has even drawn inspiration from Canada in its bid to block the arrival of Central American asylum seekers, using the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) as a model.
Under the STCA, Canada returns to the U.S. most refugee claimants who present themselves at the border. The United States is seeking to persuade Mexico and Guatemala to agree to similar arrangements that would allow the U.S. to send asylum-seekers who make it to the United States back to those countries. Absent such agreements, the U.S. has used threats of tariffs to induce both countries to block asylum seekers in transit with the aim of preventing them from getting to the United States in the first place.
The U.S. has also announced that, in contravention of international law, it will no longer provide asylum to most applicants who travelled through any country where they could have sought refugee protection — essentially all Central American asylum seekers.
In all of this, Canada has been remarkably quiet. Under the STCA, Canada continues to turn away Central American refugee claimants who present themselves at an official border crossing. Canada has also initiated discussions with the U.S. about expanding the STCA to cut off other routes into the country involving irregular border crossing.
Read more: The deadly consequences of proposed Canadian asylum restrictions
Nonetheless, Central American asylum seekers who circumvent these barriers and who make it to Canada will mostly be recognized as refugees. According to statistics produced by Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board, the refugee claim grant rates in 2018 for these countries were: El Salvador, 72 per cent; Guatemala, 64 per cent; and, Honduras, 57 per cent.
So when the Trump administration attacks this group of asylum seekers and denies them protection, they are attacking people who mostly meet Canada’s refugee definition. Canada must not be complicit in these attacks against refugees.
At a minimum, Canada should not be sending refugee claimants from these countries back to the United States under the STCA. The U.S. is simply not safe for them.
But Canada should do more than that.
Canada should stand up for international law by condemning the American assault on this group of refugees.
And Canada should do its part by helping refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras get around the barriers that the U.S. is placing in their path by bringing them to the country under refugee resettlement programs.