Today the Canadian Council for Refugees and other organizations announced the launch of a campaign designed to transform the conversation about refugees in Canada. Under the banner ‘Proud to Protect Refugees’, 4 April (Refugee Rights Day) will see the launch of new efforts to promote a positive vision of what we want for refugees and of the important contributions refugees make to our communities.
“At its best, Canada’s response to refugees makes us all proud,” said Loly Rico, President of the Canadian Council for Refugees. “Twenty-three years ago, I came to Canada as a refugee with my family and we were welcomed. I want to make sure that Canada’s tradition of a warm welcome and protection remains strong. ”
“Refugees suffer human rights abuses because of who they are, or what they believe. Amnesty International is proud to endorse a campaign to protect refugee rights to life, liberty and security of the person,” said Gloria Nafziger of Amnesty International Canada.
The Most Reverend Fred Hiltz, Archbishop and Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada stated, “This campaign is a wonderful opportunity to learn and spread the word about the gospel imperative to reach out to millions of the most vulnerable and at risk people in the world, to respond to their hope for new beginnings, to welcome and be transformed by their presence, voice and heart in our midst.”
The Canadian Council for Refugees and other groups across Canada are calling on all Canadians to show their pride in protecting refugees. This is important to ensure that Canada remains welcoming.
Recent changes to Canada’s refugee system and increased negative rhetoric about newcomers may make it tougher for refugees to find protection and to feel welcome in Canada.
“Faith communities in Canada have long been Proud to Protect Refugees. We are also proud of our universal healthcare system. For this tradition to continue, we need to ensure that everyone in Canada receives adequate healthcare. Providing this same healthcare to refugees and others seeking Canada’s protection is the right thing to do and it makes good financial sense,” said Joe Gunn, Executive Director of Citizens for Public Justice.
4 April is the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1985 Singh decision and has been celebrated as Refugee Rights Day in Canada since then. In this decision the Supreme Court found that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the fundamental rights of refugees. The Court decided that ‘everyone’ includes refugee claimants in the sentence: ‘Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.’
For more information on the Proud to Protect Refugees campaign, visit: ccrweb.ca/en/proud-to-protect-refugees