All posts by Will

How does the Sergei Magnitsky Law Tie Into Inadmissibility Under the Immigration and Refugee Protections Act?

Recently Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland made an announcement that 17 Saudi Nationals linked to the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi had been sanctioned under the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law).

Within her announcement, she mentioned that these 17 individuals (which notably do not include the Crown Prince MBS) are now inadmissible to Canada.

Given the Sergei Magnitsky Law is relatively new, I thought it would be worth looking at how these two legal provisions tie into each other.

They tie in to each other via the related amendments made to section 35 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) noted in the preamble and the Related Amendments in Section 18 of the Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act.

As stated in the Regulatory Impact Analysis – “The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act renders inadmissible to Canada persons, other than permanent residents, subject to orders and regulations made under the new Act. Therefore, the individuals listed in the Regulations are inadmissible to Canada.”

We need to look at the IRPA to better understand the application of an s.35(1) IRPA inadmissibility.

IRPA and the Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act

Human or international rights violations

 (1) A permanent resident or a foreign national is inadmissible on grounds of violating human or international rights for

(e) being a person, other than a permanent resident, who is currently the subject of an order or regulation made under section 4 of the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law).

Clarification

(2) For greater certainty, despite section 33, a person who ceases being the subject of an order or regulation referred to in paragraph (1)(d) or (e) is no longer inadmissible under that paragraph.

2001, c. 27, s. 35;
2013, c. 16, s. 14;
2017, c. 21, s. 18.

In order to get one’s name off the list, one needs to make an application under section 8 of the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law).

Rights of Foreign Nationals Who are the Subject of an Order or Regulation

Application

8 (1) A foreign national who is the subject of an order or regulation made under section 4 may apply in writing to the Minister to cease being the subject of the order or regulation.

Recommendation

(2) On receipt of the application, the Minister must decide whether there are reasonable grounds to recommend to the Governor in Council that the order or regulation be amended or repealed, as the case may be, so that the applicant ceases to be the subject of it.

Time limit

(3) The Minister must make a decision on the application within 90 days after the day on which the application is received.

Notice if application rejected

(4) The Minister must give notice without delay to the applicant of any decision to reject the application.

New application

(5) If there has been a material change in the applicant’s circumstances since their last application under subsection (1) was submitted, he or she may submit another application.

Currently, there are no cited cases to the Sergei

What If the Individual is in Canada

In the off chance that they are in Canada already when the order is made, the application removal order per R. 229(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations is

 (1) For the purposes of paragraph 45(d) of the Act, the applicable removal order to be made by the Immigration Division against a person is

(b) a deportation order, if they are inadmissible under subsection 35(1) of the Act on grounds of violating human or international rights;

Conclusion

So far there is not a single case citing to s. 35(1)(e) IRPA – it is no doubt still in it’s legislative infancy. More is certainly yet to come on this interesting piece of law!

Fettering Discretion and Standard of Review – Boswell J. sets out a Useful Summary in Alagaratnam

Readers of this blog know that one of the concepts that I am very fascinated/still struggle with the idea of fettering discretion. For whatever reason, my 2015 post where I tried to harness my inner Paul Daly and assess it, is a top Google search for the definition [use with caution/take it for what it’s worth].

While researching for a judicial review I am preparing when an Officer went beyond the policy scope of their discretionary assessment of humanitarian and compassionate grounds factors, I came across a 2017 Boswell J. decision in Alagaratnam v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2017 FC 381 (CanLII), <http://canlii.ca/t/h3bsc> that does a very good job of laying out the state of the current standard of review analysis.

For now, I think this is the best way to address standard of review until we may get clarity with the new trilogy heard in December with Bell Canada, et al. v. Attorney General of Canada (37896), and with National Football League, et al. v. Attorney General of Canada (37897).

I have reproduced paragraphs 23 to 28 below.

A.               Standard of Review

[23]           An officer’s decision to deny relief under subsection 25(1) of the IRPA involves the exercise of humanitarian and compassionate discretion and is reviewed on the reasonableness standard (Kanthasamy at para 44). Under this standard of review, the Court must determine whether the Officer’s decision “falls within a range of possible, acceptable outcomes which are defensible in respect of the facts and law” and whether the decision is justifiable, transparent, and intelligible: Dunsmuir v New Brunswick2008 SCC 9 (CanLII) at para 47, [2008] 1 SCR 190. Those criteria are met if “the reasons allow the reviewing court to understand why the tribunal made its decision and permit it to determine whether the conclusion is within the range of acceptable outcomes”: Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses’ Union v Newfoundland and Labrador (Treasury Board)2011 SCC 62 (CanLII) at para 16, [2011] 3 SCR 708.

[24]           It warrants note that the Supreme Court in Kanthasamy applied a reasonableness standard of review, yet ultimately concluded that the officer had inappropriately fettered her discretion by a literal obedience to the adjectives “unusual and undeserved or disproportionate” hardship, leading her “to see each of them as a distinct legal test, rather than as words designed to help reify the equitable purpose of the provision” (para 45).

[25]           As to the standard of review for an allegation that an administrative decision-maker has fettered their discretion, this is somewhat unsettled in the jurisprudence. In Stemijon Investments Ltd v Canada (Attorney General)2011 FCA 299 (CanLII), 341 DLR (4th) 710 [Stemijon], Justice Stratas explained how fettering of discretion was traditionally an automatic ground for setting aside a decision, but now it should be subsumed into the reasonableness analysis:

[21]      The appellants’ submissions, while based on reasonableness, seem to articulate “fettering of discretion” outside of the Dunsmuir reasonableness analysis. They seem to suggest that “fettering of discretion” is an automatic ground for setting aside administrative decisions and we need not engage in a Dunsmuir-type reasonableness review.

[22]      On this, there is authority on the appellants’ side. For many decades now, “fettering of discretion” has been an automatic or nominate ground for setting aside administrative decision-making: see, for example, Maple Lodge Farms Ltd. v. Government of Canada1982 CanLII 24 (SCC), [1982] 2 S.C.R. 2 at page 6. The reasoning goes like this. Decision-makers must follow the law. If the law gives them discretion of a certain scope, they cannot, in a binding way, cut down that scope. To allow that is to allow them to rewrite the law. Only Parliament or its validly authorized delegates can write or rewrite law.

[23]      This sits uncomfortably with Dunsmuir, in which the Supreme Court’s stated aim was to simplify judicial review of the substance of decision-making by encouraging courts to conduct one, single methodology of review using only two standards of review, correctness and reasonableness. In Dunsmuir, the Supreme Court did not discuss how automatic or nominate grounds for setting aside the substance of decision-making, such as “fettering of discretion,” fit into the scheme of things. Might the automatic or nominate grounds now be subsumed within the rubric of reasonableness review? On this question, this Court recently had a difference of opinion: Kane v. Canada (Attorney General)2011 FCA 19 (CanLII). But, in my view, this debate is of no moment where we are dealing with decisions that are the product of “fettered discretions.” The result is the same.

[24]      Dunsmuir reaffirms a longstanding, cardinal principle: “all exercises of public authority must find their source in law” (paragraphs 27-28). Any decision that draws upon something other than the law – for example a decision based solely upon an informal policy statement without regard or cognizance of law, cannot fall within the range of what is acceptable and defensible and, thus, be reasonable as that is defined in Dunsmuir at paragraph 47. A decision that is the product of a fettered discretion must per se be unreasonable.

[26]           In Frankie’s Burgers Lougheed Inc v Canada (Employment and Social Development)2015 FC 27(CanLII), 473 FTR 67, the Court followed this approach:

[24]      With respect to the fettering of discretion issue that has been raised, it is not necessary to definitively determine whether the standard of review is correctness or reasonableness, since the result is the same: a decision that is the product of a fettered discretion must per se be unreasonable (Stemijon…at paras 20-24).

[27]           More recently, in Gordon v Canada (Attorney General)2016 FC 643 (CanLII), 267 ACWS (3d) 738, the Court noted the unsettled question as to whether a correctness or a reasonableness standard of review applies to an allegation that an administrative decision-maker fettered their discretion, observing that:

[25]      Some confusion exists regarding the appropriate standard of review where the fettering of discretion is at issue.

[26]      Traditionally, the fettering of discretion has been reviewable on the correctness standard: Thamotharem v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship & Immigration)2007 FCA 198 (CanLII) at para 33, 366 NR 30.

[27]      However, the Federal Court of Appeal has recently posited that post- Dunsmuir, the fettering of discretion should be reviewed on the reasonableness standard, as it is a kind of substantive error. The Federal Court of Appeal has, however, also been careful to say that the fettering of discretion is always outside the range of possible, acceptable outcomes, and is therefore per se unreasonable: Stemijon at paras 23-25…

[28]      It is sufficient to state in this case that the fettering of discretion is a reviewable error under either standard of review, and will result in the decision being quashed: JP Morgan Asset Management (Canada) Inc. v. Minister of National Revenue2013 FCA 250 (CanLII) at paras 71-73, 450 N.R. 91; see also Stemijon Investments, above, at para 23. Simply put, if the Minister’s Delegate fettered her discretion, her decision should be set aside regardless of the standard of review applied.

[28]           For the purposes of this case, it is sufficient to conclude that, regardless of the standard of review to be applied to the fettering of discretion issue raised by the Applicant, if the Officer fettered his or her discretion that would constitute a reviewable error under either standard of review and would require that the decision be set aside.

Applying for Study Permit – Does I Matter if I Apply in Canada? – FC Weighs In

One of the questions I’ve always struggled with (and tended to advise much more conservatively on) is the question of whether an individual should apply for a study permit while they are residing in their country of habitual residence/citizenship or whether they should apply for one while they are in Canada as visitors (processed in LA).

The general incentive overseas is made clear by a series of sub-categories such as Study Direct Stream and Post-Secondary with GIC, that have been created to try and encourage applicants to apply to local offices with local standards. Furthermore, the main temporary resident assessment is whether one will leave Canada at the end of their authorized stay – something made more difficult by someone who may have visited and decided they would like to stay for long (remember, there’s no implied status provided by a study permit application assessed in Los Angeles – as it is still considered an initial study permit application, NOT an extension).

I’ve always avoided Los Angeles where possible – the Visa Office there is quite tough on temporary resident applicants especially on the factor of whether they would leave Canada at their end of their authorized stay.

Justice Norris, who has established himself as a progressive voice on the Federal Court bench, has challenged the logic that negative inferences or speculations flowing can be drawn from the fact an Application was made in Canada rather than from abroad.

In Cervjakova v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), 2018 FC 1052 (CanLII),  he writes in paragraphs 11 – 16 (emphasis added)

[11]  The GCMS notes record the reasons for the decision as follows:

After considering all information available including principal applicant’s personal circumstances, employment/financial/family situation, significant cost of proposed study, accessibility of similar programs in home country, I am not satisfied principal applicant’s motivation for pursuing studies in Canada is reasonable, primary purpose is to study, and will leave by the end of an authorized stay period.

(In the interests of readability, I have taken the liberty of replacing the abbreviations the officer used in the notes.)

[12]  Having regard to all the circumstances of this case, in my view the officer’s conclusions fail the tests of transparency, intelligibility and justification.  The conclusion that the applicant would not leave Canada at the end of her authorized stay is especially troubling.  A finding that the applicant could not be trusted to comply with Canadian law is a serious matter.  The applicant had done everything she was supposed to.  She obtained a visitor’s visa when she first came to Canada.  She applied for a study permit when she decided to undertake further studies in her field (she had worked in accounting for several years in Latvia).  The only suggestion that she had not complied with Canadian immigration law is found in the officer’s observation that the applicant had listed the occupation of her two children as “students” but there was no record of them having been issued study permits.  The children were ages 4 and 11.  While one might expect them to be in school, there was no evidence that they were when the application was submitted.

[13]  Similarly, the officer notes that it is “unclear” why the applicant did not apply for a study permit before she left Latvia for Canada.  The applicant was not required to do so.  The only requirement was that the application be processed by a visa office outside of Canada.  While the applicant was in Canada when she sent off her application, she was here lawfully.  She was entitled to submit her application when and how she did.  Simply being unclear about why this happened does not reasonably support a finding that the applicant had not conducted herself with bona fides.

[14]  The officer was also not satisfied that the applicant had the financial means to afford the programme and to support herself and her family during an extended stay in Canada.  This conclusion is not reasonably supported by the record, either.  The applicant presented evidence that she had adequate funds to support herself and her family, especially considering that a policy manual states that the applicant’s ability to fund the first year of the proposed course of studies is the primary consideration.  (After that, an applicant need only demonstrate a probability of future sources of funding.)

[15]  The applicant applied for an open work permit for her husband under section 199(e) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, SOR/2002-227.  While it was not obvious that her husband would be able to find work in Canada, the evidence of the applicant’s financial circumstances suggested that the viability of her plans did not depend on this happening.  It is true that the applicant’s husband had left a job behind in Latvia.  The applicant’s decision to study in Canada could well entail financial sacrifices for herself and her family but the evidence suggested they could afford to make them.  This is often what is required to improve one’s circumstances in life.  There was no basis to conclude that this was an unreasonable decision on the applicant’s part that raised doubts about her true motivation.

[16]  It may strike one as odd that the applicant and her family would suddenly decide to extend a summer vacation in Canada into a five-year commitment.  But life often takes unexpected turns.  Nothing in the circumstances of this case reasonably supported the conclusion that the applicant had failed to establish that she wanted to stay in Canada to study in her field, that she could afford to do so, and that she would leave when she was supposed to.

Alone the lines of several other recent successful study permit JRs we’ve seen, this decision reaffirms that speculative reasoning should not be employed in refusing applicants. I return to a premise I’ve held for awhile – if we continue to hold the number of study permits in Canada at a level where supply exceeds demand, and where targets are reached earlier, how do we avoid this? The very assessment of a study permit is by nature speculative. Indeed, I’ve yet to meet very many internal students who do not meet the study permit requirements, but for that discretionary – will they return to Canada at the end of their stay. How are we going to balance all this out without a quota system?

Food for thought. For now, applying through LA (though still not my first choice in most cases) can’t in itself be a deal-breaker.

My Welcoming Remarks from City of Vancouver’s Islamic History Month – 27 October 2018

Islamic History Month Agenda

Thank you, Councilor Carr

For those that don’t know Councilor Carr was our Council liaison for the past year and almost a half. and we are very grateful for her work with us

Before we introduce ourselves, I would also like to thank Ms. T’uy’t’tanat-Cease Wyss for her traditional welcome and all the work she does educating Vancouverites through her art and storytelling. It is a humble reminder that we as settlers have much to learn, listen and gain from the First Nations/Indigenous communities that we are all settlers on.

My name is Will Tao (pronouns: he/him) and this is my colleague and one of the lead event organizers Fatimah Yasin, and we are privileged and humbled to be Outgoing Members of the City of Vancouver’s Cultural Communities Advisory Committee. Our Committee, which served for a year and a half just immediately prior to the election was given a mandate to advise Council on enhancing access and inclusion for Vancouver’s diverse cultural communities to fully participate in City services and civic life.

Today marks the second of our Voices of Vancouver initiatives and our Final event of our term, and fittingly so. The very inspiration for us to turn our strategy from inward meetings at City Hall to outreach into diverse communities was because of Islamophobic protests and the powerful counter-protests that took place in August 2017. We recognized that while we were proud of those who stood up to combat racism and Islamophobia, we couldn’t help but recognize that some voices were missing even from those protests. Speaking to individuals after, they were afraid as newcomers, as Muslim-Canadians, as hijab-wearing Muslim-Canadian women, to go into a public space to stand up and speak out.

Our first Voices of Vancouver event, taking place on March 23rd, with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – where we had speaker and our good friend, Noor Fadel, speak to youth, many of whom were Muslim-Canadian, about her experiences as a victim of a hate crime. We provided bystander training that really brought to light how our conscious and unconscious biases affect our interactions and make some of us more vulnerable and susceptible to discrimination.

Around the same time, Councilor Andrea Reimer, reached out and asked us if we could take the lead on organizing a first public celebration for Islamic History Month on behalf of the City. So here we are today. With a little bit of hard work and a lot of sleepless nights. Although I will let Aslam, the lead organizer speak to that shortly.

Now to some more salient content and context for today’s event. The word “History.” I believe that we cannot celebrate Islamic History Month without recognizing the roots of all Muslim-Canadians as part of the history of the Canadian Confederation. As you will soon learn from Imaad Ali in his interactive display, we know as a historical fact that there were Muslims in Canada prior to Confederation in 1867, that by 1911 BC had the most Muslims in the country, and that by 1912, when the Komagata Maru arrived there was a local Muslim on the shore committee who managed to get permanent residence in Canada. We know that in 1965, Vancouver’s first Mosque, the Jamia Mosque was established on West 8th and operates to this date, still serving as a homeless shelter when temperatures drops. As you can see from just these few snippets, this is a continuing, and evolving historical narrative that we must continue to tell and share to remind all those who come that there was a foundation – paved by Muslim Canadians. Islam is not a newcomer religion or a Middle Eastern religion. It is a Canadian religion.

Indeed, by 2036, Statistics Canada estimates that between 5.6% and 7.2% of the total population of Canada will be Muslim. With increased numbers, we hope will become increased focus, study, and a deeper look at how we can integrate Muslim ideas and culture into our Canadian social fabric – work I know the Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies at SFU has already been doing and continues to do as lead organizers of this event.

In boldly stating that Muslim ideas have a place in Canada’s future, I challenge anybody who argues that the recognition that the way we spend our substance – however much of that we cherish, upon family, orphans, the needy, newcomers, the homeless, and freeing those from the bonds of misfortune, be it drug addiction or trafficking, is not fundamentally Canadian. Our Charter values aim to protect the rights of those very groups facing historical subjugation that this Quran passage just highlighted. We can keeping enunciating differences between us or we can find those unique synergies and strengthen them. I pitch today for the latter.

This leads to my next point, before I pass it on to Fatimah to share her experiences organizing this event, – we need to also accept our shortcomings as we move forward. As a City (writ large), we haven’t heard your voices, Muslim voices. We haven’t given you space to celebrate, engage, and share your perspectives. To lead. To be empowered. Case in point, not a single Muslim-Canadian has ever served as a City Councilor in Vancouver. The last South Asian City Councilor elected was in 1972. Intersectionally, we have never had a South Asian (let alone Muslim) woman City Councillor. This also isn’t just a Vancouver phenomenon. Recently in Toronto not a single Muslim-Canadian was elected to Council on 24 wards. Only one hijab-wearing female politician has ever been elected to public office in Canada, Ms. Ausma Malik, as a School Board Trustee and when her ward was eliminated and she chose not run in the past civic election. How do they see us if we are not there?

Therefore, we cannot speak of reconciliation broadly as a City without facing every single one of our Cultural Communities, examining how they have become our neighbours and Citizens and increasing not only our own cultural humility in integrating them into our lives but allowing them opportunity to integrate us into their stories and their narratives (attending events such as today, I propose is a good start but only a start). Similarly, while we step forward to change, we also need to look behind traditional power structures and see how that might involve us stepping back and allowing others to have a share of the podium, and that power – that their success can be our success.

As Allama Iqbal, the great Pakistani poet, once wrote – words without power is mere philosophy.

Finally I hope as today as you listen to the music, laugh at the comedy, trace your brush through the calligraphy that you don’t forget your role in helping to facilitate conversation, to elevate voice and to help empower this diverse Muslim community that this City is proud to help, and along with that all our diverse ethnocultural and Indigenous communities. Thank you.

 

IMG_7461

 

Authorization to Return to Canada (“ARC”) – A Deep Dive

With an increase in individuals being removed from Canada on exclusion and deportation orders, the practice of filing Authorization to Return to Canada Applications (“ARC Applications”) is on the rise.

Per IRCC: 

A52(1) provides that if a removal order has been enforced, a foreign national shall not return to Canada unless authorized by an officer or in other prescribed circumstances. A removal order is considered to have been enforced whether the client either leaves voluntarily or is removed by the Minister.

R226(1) provides that for the purposes of A52(1) and subject to R226(2), a deportation order obliges a foreign national to obtain the written authorization of an officer in order to return to Canada any time after the deportation order has been enforced.

The consequences of trying to return to Canada after an exclusion/deportation order without having filed an ARC is a deportation order per the operation of R. 228(1)(c)(ii):

(1) For the purposes of subsection 44(2) of the Act, and subject to subsections (3) and (4), if a report in respect of a foreign national does not include any grounds of inadmissibility other than those set out in the following circumstances, the report shall not be referred to the Immigration Division and any removal order made shall be

…..

(c) if the foreign national is inadmissible under section 41 of the Act on grounds of

…..

(ii) failing to obtain the authorization of an officer required by subsection 52(1) of the Act, a deportation order,

As a specified removal order, this does not need to go the Immigration Division and can be issued by a CBSA Minister’s Delegate.

Going Behind the ARC Application

IRCC gives very little guidance (online) on what should be an ARC application.

Indeed, the online guidance is limited to the following as posted on their website.

Important information

When an officer assesses your application, they will consider, among other things:

  • the reasons for the removal order
  • the possibility that you will repeat the behaviour that caused the order to be issued
  • the length of time since the order was issued
  • your current situation
  • the reason why you want to enter Canada.

An incomplete or illegible application will be returned without being processed.

There is no guarantee that you will be issued an Authorization to Return to Canada.

There is another source – OP 1 – Procedures at 6.2 that sets out more details on what is assessed:

Screen Shot 2018-10-13 at 8.36.54 PM

Screen Shot 2018-10-13 at 8.37.54 PM

Note how detailed the analysis at each stage and how it suggests that there is the need for significant documentation.

The above seem to follow the words of Immigration Lawyer, Richard Wazana who said recently in an Immigration Lawyer’s Listserve: “Do not take anything for granted on Authorization to Return to Canada (“ARCs). Make thorough submissions and support them with evidence, like you would an H&C.”

Who Can Issue an ARC?

OP 1 at 6.5 provides  the following:

Screen Shot 2018-10-14 at 12.40.35 PM

This makes it clear that there will likely be multiple Officers involved in a decision but restrictions around the decision-maker.

It also suggests that there can be other decision-makers other than at visa offices abroad, which a closer look at the Instruments of Designated Authority confirms.

Screen Shot 2018-10-14 at 12.42.09 PM

My experiences have been limited to overseas offices but the authority expands beyond that to members of IRCC’s CMB and senior CBSA members just to name a few. It will be interesting to better understand that decision-making/referral network.

Let’s look at it from the inside.

I’ve managed to get my hands on the training guide used (2017 results, so slightly dated and may not be what IRCC presently utilizes), but does add a little more conversation (especially processing-wise) to the resources we’ve been able to build.

Screen Shot 2018-10-13 at 8.29.04 PM

The above is important especially to remember that eligibility is assessed before ARC in the process so the need to file ARC does not diminish the need to file a strong baseline application.

Screen Shot 2018-10-14 at 1.04.45 PM

In this page remember the issue of paying removal costs and that this needs to be resolved before the ARC.

 

Screen Shot 2018-10-14 at 1.06.44 PM

These factors track OP 1, 6.2 and also refer to the Instruments of Delegated Authority that I pointed to earlier.

Screen Shot 2018-10-14 at 1.07.07 PM

Here, note ARC does not need to be filed each time. The first ARC  is all that is needed so a strong application is crucial.

Screen Shot 2018-10-14 at 1.07.22 PM

Remember too that a TRP can overcome the need for an ARC – but that an exceptional case needs to be made out for this.

Finally, here’s a helpful chart from the training guide that may be worth putting up on your wall to remind you of the interaction between ARC and removals.

Screen Shot 2018-10-13 at 8.39.42 PM

All the process is good to know but I would suggest that the most important parts of an ARC involve two stages – (1) making a strong case for initial eligibility; and (2) drawing those factors to make a compelling and exceptional case for why you deserve to return to Canada notwithstanding your past immigration history.

Hope this post helps guide you in that journey!

 

Non-Immigration Tribunal’s Immigration Confusion – Implied Status for R. 206/R.207 work permit

An interesting decision in a Alberta Workers’ Compensation Appeal Decision No.: 2017-0248, 2018 CanLII 87280 (AB WCAC)

raises interesting issues about how accessible or apparent are some of the nuances of the operation of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act [IRPA] and Regulations [IRPR], especially around implied status.

Implied status (R.186(u) of IRPR in the context of work) is an often misunderstood concept. It is an area where I have had to write a lot of opinion letters for employers/employees in order to preserve the employees’ ability to maintain employment. As there is no “official” document confirming implied status, and the end of the period will often rely on a worker’s forthcoming updates to their employer about their application, it can be the source of some tension.

In Decision No.: 2017-0248, the status of foreign workers vis-a-vis their implied status is addressed in two major statements in the decision. Without getting into the applicability of the misunderstanding on the consequences, which it appears there may have been, it is important to clarify the law. I hope this piece is ultimately also an argument by getting an immigration opinion from an immigration lawyer may aid in understanding non-immigration law matters. This area of the law is not as simple as ‘googling’ IRCC’s website.

The Worker’s Representative’s made the following submissions as entered into the decision:

[106.12]   The worker’s employer had offered modified work duties.  The worker was committed to performing modified duties and signed a modified work agreement on March 19, 2015.

[106.13]   On the same day the agreement was signed, the employer advised WCB that it could no longer employ him because his work visa had expired and the worker had done nothing to renew it.

[106.14]   However, the worker had reported to his supervisor that he had applied for an extension, one month before his work visa expired.  He provided the supervisor with an email to support this.

[106.15]   An employer who hires temporary foreign workers should be aware that, once an individual has applied for extension of work visa, he or she remains entitled continue to work for the same employer until a decision is made on the extension.  The employer did not follow through with the worker’s implied status as a temporary resident entitled to work and removed the modified work.

[106.16]   Because of the employer’s decision, the worker had to relocate to another province as he had no way to pay his living expenses.

The Appeal Board later addresses the submissions and decides as follows:

[158]        We acknowledge the worker’s representative’s submissions with respect to the worker’s ability to continue to work past the date on which his work permit expired.

[159]        We note that the worker was issued a work permit on March 20, 2014.  The date of expiry was March 20, 2015.   The work permit explicitly stated that the work permit did not confer temporary resident status:

“. . .

Remarks/Observations:

DOES NOT CONFER TEMPORARY RESIDENT STATUS.  JP/OSC

. . .”

[160]        The Government of Canada information, supplied by the worker’s representative and copies of printouts of which were contained in the appeal documents package, stated what would happen if a temporary resident applied for renewal of a work permit which then expired.  However, there was no evidence before us to establish that the worker was a temporary resident at the time his work permit expired.  To the contrary, the permit stated he was not.

Implied Status is Available for a Work Permit Holder With a Condition “Does Not Confer Temporary Resident Status”

What the Worker Compensation Appeal Board does, in essence, is  equate the condition on the work permit indicating that the work permit does not confer temporary resident status to the presumption that implied status cannot be available as implied status requires pre-existing temporary resident status.

While it sounds good in theory, it is wrong on application of law. This is where implied status can sometimes be a misnomer.

*Warning – this part gets a bit reg heavy so if you hate regulations, you may want to avoid reading further.

First, the starting point – what type of work permit does the Appellant in this case have. We can do a preliminary deduction without seeing the work permit that is either a R. 206 of the Immigration and Refugee Protections Regulations [“IRPR“] and/or R.207(c) or (d) IRPR work permit. We are able to do this by looking at R.202 IRPR which sets out the impetus for the condition of not conferring temporary resident status.

This provision applies to work permits that often are applied for by refugee claimants or subject to an unenforceable removal order [R.206], is a protected person within the meaning of subsection 95(2) [R.207(c)], or is applying to become a permanent resident and has been granted an exemption by the Minister per s. 25(1), s.25.1(1), or s.25.2(1) of IRPA [R. 207(d)]. The later is commonly knows as the “first-stage approval” for a Humanitarian and Compassionate grounds permanent residence application, quite common when dealing with individuals without status who are applying for permanent residence.

The provision for implied status falls under R. 186(u) IRPR which allows a foreign national to work on the conditions of an expired work permit while awaiting a decision on a new work permit application. It is worth noting that this is a provision which does not mention anything relating to temporary resident status.

 A foreign national may work in Canada without a work permit

(u) until a decision is made on an application made by them under subsection 201(1), if they have remained in Canada after the expiry of their work permit and they have continued to comply with the conditions set out on the expired work permit, other than the expiry date;

In fact,  R.201 IRPR ties into R. 200, which states and Officer shall renew a foreign national’s work permit [note again – no language around an individual needing to be in status] if they continue to meet the requirements of section (R.) 200.

Application for renewal

  •  (1) A foreign national may apply for the renewal of their work permit if

    • (a) the application is made before their work permit expires; and

    • (b) they have complied with all conditions imposed on their entry into Canada.

  • Renewal

    (2) An officer shall renew the foreign national’s work permit if, following an examination, it is established that the foreign national continues to meet the requirements of section 200.

  • SOR/2010-172, s. 3.

In fact, four subsections of R. 200 specifically highlight section 206 and 207 and indeed in subsection (2) make it that the ability to leave Canada at the end of an authorized stay [i.e. or reframed –  maintain temporary resident status] is not a consideration in whether to issue a work permit.

In conclusion – it is very clear from the regulations that an individual with an R. 206 or R. 207(c) and (d) IRPR work permit that has a condition stating the work permit does not grant temporary status CAN still rely on implied status under R. 186(u) of IRPR.

It is unclear what Government of Canada documents were relied upon but websites don’t often tell the full picture.

What IRCC email “actively pursuing studies” compliance checks look like

Email Compliance Checks

As you may have seen from IRCC’s revamped study permit instructions website, the process of verifying whether a student is “actively pursuing studies” is finally being taken up by the Department. While some may find concern in this (given the broad nature of R. 220.1 IRPR), if it leads to less Port of Entry decisions and more assessment by those who understand the challenges of international students and can grant some of discretion, this can be a positive thing.

I have shared an earlier post – what the letter looks like but I want to provide some more details about what we know and what we don’t know. Hopefully, IRCC will also put up some sort of an information page that sets out the guidelines/thresholds to be met and what (if any) steps a student can take to explain peculiarities or normalize their study status when facing such a request. For one, it is not clear how a student is to address medical breaks, time outside Canada (when they are not subject to the requirement to actively pursue studies), or any other explanation in a manner that can lead to the exercising of positive discretion.

Step 1: Receive Email from IRCC

IRCC.DNISPCompliance-ConformitePEERN.IRCC@cic.gc.ca

  • On this a side note and tip- many international students utilize the email of educational agents, family members, etc. to apply for study permits. For many of them, once you are comfortably in Canada and in school their obligation ceases to exist, but yours still do. I would suggest creating a MyCIC and linking your application to your new MyCIC to ensure that you get communication. Alternatively, you may choose to contact IRCC by IRCC webform to change your contact information. Still, IRCC has been known to send emails to wrong/old addresses. Being proactive will do you well here.

Step 2: Read the Email from IRCC carefully, noting deadlines, format and documents required

Copy of a compliance check

In this sample request, there are two things requested – one proving current enrollment status and a second requesting transcripts from past dates. There is also under the “Please note” section the ability to provide additional explanations.

With a deadline, you want to make sure that if (for whatever reason) documents may not be obtained within the deadline [let’s assume your consultant sent you this email three weeks late and a transcript takes one week to obtain from your former institution], make sure to  email and ask for a reasonable extension of time. 

Step 3: Review the Letter/Transcripts You Get Carefully

Not all letters and transcripts are self-evident when under review. It is possible the educational institution themselves may not have undergone an immigration audit of their letters, attendance records may be inaccurate/missing, or the transcript may have some issue that you were previously not a party to. Schools also may have very unique semester systems that are not captured in their enrollment letters or transcripts. It is important before you pass it on directly to IRCC that you review it for possible flags that may need explaining.

That being said, IRCC’s technology to catch fraud is increasing, comes with high consequences (a possible 5-year bar from Canada for misrepresentation and/or regulatory offense/charges). I would highly advise against any one seeking to alter anything for the purposes of trying to cover up a record of underwhelming studies. There is sufficient enough grey in the legislation that you may be better off providing an explanation of your ongoing intent and explaining short periods of non-compliance than to cover up or hide it.

Step 4: Provide a Response or Determine if You Need Legal Assistance Providing Said Response

Next comes responding. If there are straight forward documentation which clearly establishes your attendance with no issue, you may be okay sending in just the transcripts. However, in many cases a cover letter or timeline may be beneficial to provide. Your job is to make the Officer’s job easier and as well advocate for your own past studies and ongoing-pursuit of studies. Again, at this stage, there are no clear cut rules as to the standard of proof. It is unclear whether students on academic probation, students who failed, and students who were wait listed or prevented from studies due to registration/health issues will be able to get a hall pass. Hopefully, in time these issues clarify themselves and as well IRCC also clarifies their communication with CBSA on students seeking entry who may have violated the actively pursuing studies requirement. In an ideal world, I would like to see CBSA cease issuing removal orders at the Port of Entry and referring cases to IRCC to pursue, giving students fair and reasonable opportunities to respond to concerns and/or make necessary efforts to change their status, if required and available.

Detained Migrant in Vancouver – A Descriptive Narrative

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+00000001_Image_Form_und_Schatten_Sachsen_Germany By Lupus in Saxonia – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50750508 

When my moms was still around, she told me about how they used to put our people in shackles.

They were thicker back then. Big iron shackles. So tight, apparently, the blood vessels constricted and feelings were lost in hands and legs. From our ancestral home, we was apparently brought onto boats to supposed freedom. Instead, years of slavery followed. There were no keys back then so those shackles became the bangles of the day, the number of links remaining a sign of the length of your arms and your worth as a potential worker.

I know my people suffered the consequences of generations of abuse. Maybe that is what led to my own abuse so many years later. My parents abandoning me at such a young age. I don’t know if my parents are alive or dead. My biological mother, they said, was only 14 when she had me. Her and my father never were supposed to be together.  They had both runaway from their respective homes and met in an abandoned building that they calle dhome. They both needed to get by and used each other as a lifeline for that fateful year. 

My father stayed long enough to watch my first diaper switch and decided that this life wasn’t for him. He went on to other cities and apparently fathered other kids. I tried to ask around, and best I know he is in the hole now – doing life for a murder. They put me in protective services when I was just 10. I didn’t realize moms had thrown me to the wolves back then. Pain was just natural. I only realize the scars I carry now.

My foster family that they set me up with decided I was nothing but a burden on their lives and who put me into labour to feed their own older biological children and their own crack addiction. I would always get the leftovers – the soupy and saucy parts of pasta and stale bread that I needed to dip in water to make edible. I often went to school with no packed lunch. Every day I needed to pretend to use the washroom and instead go to the cloakroom where I took a few pieces here and there from my classmates.  I knew which bags belonged to the white kids. They always had more snacks that were easy to steal.

I always slipped out, eating lunch by myself on the roof of a nearby building. Watching the cars go by, women being picked up and driven away. Back then, I had no clue what that operation was, only that these women were real pretty and tall.

I understand that the Fosters were paid to take me in but they decided to keep any money they got to themselves. They would always sober up just enough to tell Child Services at their monthly meeting that I was doing okay and had my older “siblings” nod in agreement in a repetitive, orchestrated routine. I was told if I said anything I would get beat so I just put on that blank starey face that I still use today.

Damn, I wish I could put my hands in my head. Close my eyes and dream of those faint memories of better days. When I was hitting lead off for my high school baseball team. Coach even said that if I played the way I did in my 9th grade there would be college scouts by 10th grade. Unfortunately that year was my last year of formal education. I didn’t pass enough classes to allow me to stay at the school they said. Other schools said their schools were full and didn’t allow me to enroll.

Snap back to reality. Today, I am in those same shackles my mom told me about. Red jumpsuit. Laceless shoes. One foot in front of another, I tell myself. Those cursed feet. The same ones that led me to cross over the arbitrary line to a foreign land that seemed so familiar. To me, it all seemed like one America. Little did I know that I had broken a rule. Hell, I had broken numerous ones before. I don’t what made this one any different. One side of the street had a Taco Bell and the other a McDonalds. I was just trynna get a burger, you feel me?

The guard accompanying me looks no older than 22. Poor kid, I think to myself. He’s a brown skin as well. Isn’t that how society works? They got us coloured people enforcing each other. I wonder if I was his blood brother he would treat me the same way. Regardless, I wouldn’t know. I only met my blood brother a month back. He offered me to stay long enough to find another City to get my sorry ass to. Other than a last name we shared nothing. He clearly didn’t want nothing to do with me other than ensuring I never returned.

I don’t remember what happened over the past week. What day it is? What month it is? What led me here again? 

Suddenly my shackles came loose with a pop. I tried to massage my wrist and ankles that were feeling incredibly sore from three hours of constriction and bumpy suburban van rides.

“Hands on the glass, and face the wall” – a new guard came up behind me. “Put your hands on the glass and spread out your legs.” Suddenly I felt a leg stick between mine. Hands started patting me down. This is probably not the best time to think it, but imagine I could just turn around and give a big hug. I haven’t had a hug in years. The touch of this guard made my whole body shiver. Every single human touch I had did the same.

“Do you prefer Turkey, Ham, or Vegetarian for lunch?”  I think of making a wise-crack that I would love that Big Mac meal and I would have got one had I had enough money,  but it was pointless. I knew the menu here. It is the same as always. “I’ll have Turkey again, sir.” with Ice Tea.

I remember that one Thanksgiving when I was five when Mom’s and I had went to Georgia to see Grandma. She made this Georgia Sweet Tea and they had roasted this big crispy turkey. Apparently it was a slave recipe passed through generations. I will never forget how rich the gravy was. You know that feeling when you hungry and wake up immediately dreaming about food. The turkey and gravy shows up all the time in my dreams, but not enough in reality.

“Where do you want to go when you leave Canada?” I stared blankly at her. 

I unno, I got nowhere to go m’aam, no family” I stammer. I was gonna go into my whole story about how I ended up here accidentally. That I had brought the can of mace from the States as I had been robbed sleeping a few months back and that I never intended to use it.

I decided against being lengthy.  She probably already knew my story anyway. This woman truthfully looked like she didn’t want to be here either. I could only imagine her job was like doing laundry, except every time a batch of clothes were washed, they kept getting dirty again. 

“Do you wanna go home then?” or “Stay locked up for another week.” she asked in a damned if you, damned if you don’t manner.

“Just get me home, m’aam. I’mma go crazy if I stay here just another minute.” I whispered.

“Come again? You need to speak up, sir.” she barked.

“Get me home.” I spoke – not realizing how loud my response came out. I barely had any water all day. My voice must have sounded coarse and cruel.

“No need to raise your voice,” she admonished. “We will get you home by 4pm today.” 

“Sir, in five minutes you will have your hearing,” she continued. “All you have to do is tell the member hearing your case that you want to go home and today we can get you home. Alright. No further questions? Take care.” she left curtly. 

I went back to my cell. The two Spanish-speaking detainees eyed me with some interest. “How did it go… esayyy?” one walked up to me.

They had not had their meetings yet and were eager to know what was up. Every time someone was released, there would be ‘high fives’ all around – woots and cheers – even the Guards would sometimes join in.  The same ‘high fives’ they used to give when I hit the ball out of the park back in 9th grade. Except, this time I did not want to be a part of it. There was no reason to ‘celebrate.’ This wasn’t a Common song.

I shook my head and said nothing. I went back to my corner of our tiny, too cramped cell and put my head on my arms.

The two Spanish-speaking ones started talking to each other and laughing. They were refugee claimants. Apparently they were just missing identification documents and they would be out in the matter of days. I had taken some grade school Spanish but still couldn’t catch much of what they were saying other than the word ” dis one loco.”

The rest of the afternoon was a blur. I went in and out of a sedated state. I was offered some tylenol yesterday because of a bad headache. Maybe the medication was too strong. Maybe I didn’t sleep well enough last night. Maybe, the 5am cornflakes didn’t go down so well this morning. 

I think I spoke to some lawyer. She was helpful enough. She was tall and beautiful. Eyes that had me lost like I was looking into an ocean. I didn’t grow up with any oceans though, we were stuck between Atlantic and the Pacific, dead centre Middle America.

She told me with much empathy that there was not much I could do, that refugee claims from the United States would not work, and that I had to decide whether I wanted to stay or go. “Go, I responded.” “I just wanna get out of the whole.” She wrote down a list of homeless shelters for me along with some phone numbers on a yellow piece of paper. She folded it delicately and placed it into my hands. I crumpled it into the pocket of my blue polo. “Thanks m’aam.”

The hearing was quick. Five minutes. There were two individuals in the room and my lawyer with the nice eyes. The man at the front said some thing about me wandering into Canada and violating some law about not being examined. I was banned from Canada for a year. I was told not come back without permission, or something like that. They decided they would continue to detain me until I would leave Canada in the matter of hours. I was immediately escorted back down. 

When I went back, my cell was empty. All the other detainees had left. It was me. I was told to change into my regular clothes.

“Border Run time” – an Officer came knocking on my door after I got about ten minutes of much needed rest.

What’s a border run?” I stammered back.

“Time to go home for you.” he answered. 

I was put back in my handcuffs, for the last time. There was two with me. One driver in the front. One Officer to my side. The windows were tinted but it was still daybreak.

The route was different this time. It was beautiful – Is this Vancouver? The maple leafs were falling off trees, gently moving in the wind.

I saw mountains, park, children playing baseball in a park. Where I grew up it was all flat. All hood. Kids had nowhere to go but to the corner to serve as human pawns for the trade. I got really good at spotting police cars and undercover agents. I wish I was better at spotting the one that woke me up from my nap on the park bench. The plan was to pan handle a little so I could get my burger and fries.  I guess it was too late. By the time I responded “who are you” I was already rolled to the concrete pavement with my hands behind my back.

This started what today is being ended – my brief trip to Canada. My brief stay in Vancouver.

I know I told this story without a beginning, middle, and end. Kind of like where I am at today. 

I get dropped off at an office. The Officers receiving me have U.S. flags sewn onto their uniforms. 

I’m home. I think.

 

20 September 2018 – CCAC x Punjabi Market Forum – Text of My Intro Speech

Full text (minus a few ad libs from the day of):

I would like to Acknowledge that we are on the unceded, traditional territories of the Coast Salish Peoples  – the Squamish, Musqueam, Tsleil-waututh.

It is the resilience of our First Peoples, in the face of adversity and historical and on-going discrimination that inspires us to continue to strive for reconciliation.

I ask that we draw on their collective wisdom, the wisdoms of the ancestors of this land, as we gather in our own circle here today.

Friends, name is Will Tao. Pronouns: he/him/his. I am the Chair of the Cultural Communities Advisory Committee. I am so grateful to be able to provide brief statements to open up today’s packed agenda of events.

For those that don’t know about our Committee we are a 15-member volunteer advisory committee. Our mandate is to enhance access and inclusion for Vancouver’s diverse cultural communities.

Over this present mandate, we have played important roles on some of the City’s major projects. We’ve been part of the Vancouver Immigration Partnership, assisted in drafting the Apology for the Historical Discrimination Against Chinese Project, been part of the Mayor’s Working Group on Immigration, The Assets Naming Committee (who I add just did a fantastic job naming several City assets)!, among others.

We are particularly proud of our Committee-driven initiatives, from the Spaces survey studying challenges in securing ethno-cultural spaces, to hosting the City’s International Day for the Elimination for Racial Discrimination, to our Voices of Vancouver statement, and to the exciting Islamic History Month, the city’s first, coming up on October 27th.

If you have any questions about our Committee’s work, I ask that you approach our Committee members. We have seven members here today – almost quorum (joke for all of you who do advisory work).

Today, marks a continuation of our efforts to ensure that diversity is more than a check mark.

Today marks our first meeting of the 3.5 half years I have been on this committee – held outside City Hall.

This brings me to the heart of today’s conversation – the Punjabi Market Community. One member of our Committee told me a few days back that this would be nostalgia for her. As a kid, Punjabi Market (like for many of the community members in this room today) was their backyard. A place to shop, to eat, to  spend those cherished family memories that today we look back fondly on.

This is a special community that stands for resiliency over time. That stands for everything great about our City and our people. It is our past, present, and future, all rolled into to one diasporic dosa.

When community members Ajay Puri and Gulzar Nanda, whom I will introduce momentarily, asked to attend a CCAC meeting a few months back and told us they needed our help. We immediately heeded their call.  Their passion for this neighbourhood – tied into their honouring of the legacy of their forefathers is an inspiration to all of us. I see our role today not only to share our own experiences and advice but to be active listeners to what this community wants us to hear as it heads to its half-century birthday in a mere two years.
I would like to close my brief remarks on just one more point.

For those that may not know, I have been adopted into a Punjabi-Sikh family myself. Had a traditional Punjabi wedding (even though my partner is Chinese). Spent hours in prayer at the Ross Street Gurdwara reflecting on God’s good graces.

I love the expression of Chardi Khala and how it ties in to work today.

Chardi Kala teaches us that even through difficult and trying times, that some of us may be facing be-it through life, work, paying rent, affording to run a business on 49th and Main, that we are all interconnected with one another. That our work here is for more and greater than our own selves and our own ambitions.

This community’s fate and future is our fate and future. By being here you have stepped into the shoes of this community for the evening, and have left your shoes at the door. Having stepped in it, it is not simply good enough to come back once every four years. You are bonded as well all are.

Today, let’s choose to face this challenge of community building with eternal optimism and positivity – Chardi Kala. Thank you for all being here.

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Some Additional Thoughts:

Growing up on the west side, Main Street was already considered too far East. I had very few South Asian classmates in high school. In University I was blessed to meet Davinder Sethi and his family who took me. Later. I studied South Asian migration and took Dr. Oberoi’s South Asian Beyond South Asia Class.  It was also during this time I was first exposed to the Punjabi Market. Davinder and I filmed an intro video to our Asian Representation in Politics course featuring Kohli’s and what was then Guru Bazaar.

For the past ten years, I will have to admit I lost touch with the Punjabi Market. I went to Pabla’s maybe twice. Even moving to South East Vancouver in April, I stayed within the confines of Fraser St. on the West and Victoria Drive on the East.

Recently, I was very fortunate to have two special individuals enter my life – Ajay Puri and Gulzar Nanda. They took not only the initiative to meet with our Committee but both took initiatives to meet with me individually. With Ajay, earlier this summer, we walked around City Hall talking about his engagement work. In mid-summer I met with Gulzar over coffee, bringing Davinder and hearing their stories of growing up in the neighbourhood. Both Ajay and Gulzar share commonalities with me. We’re all around the same age. Both of us have lovely partners (clearly better 1/2s), all three of us have lost a parent. I am so grateful for their passion for this City and their neighbourhood and that they were willing to welcome me into their networks with open arms.

This brings me to the picture  above . The Cultural Communities Advisory Committee decided to host its first ever meeting outside of City Hall in the Punjabi Market thanks to the work of Ajay and Gulzar. The tour of the Market was incredible – I learned so much about the history of the businesses, the art work, and some of the changes in the works. The Forum was equally aspiring, particularly the participation of the neighbourhood elders who were eager to engage with youth, sharing their wisdom while appreciating the young energy. I think some of the ideas that were recommended can be implemented very soon. I cannot wait to see what the next Diwali, a possible mural festival, and Indian cooking/dance classes will look like. I will certainly be there.

Now that we have these ideas, its time to start implementation. We have a host of really talented political candidates, who (whether elected or not) appear ready to ensure this neighbourhood is not forgotten for another four years.

As I said in my speech – I definitely view these next years with a sense of chardi kala.

Keep posted with the progress – https://www.punjabixmarket.com/

With gratitude!

Will

 

Guest Post: ‘Homage to Canada’ – by Ms. Zayneb Khairy

Vancouver Immigration Blog often receives posts from individuals seeking to share a platform for their thoughts and ideas. When I received this piece by Ms. Zayneb Khairy (through an email to me), I immediately connected to her words. I hope you all enjoy this beautiful account of one Vancouverite’s views of working with Arab refugees and how it has affected her worldview as much as I did. I have not made any edits, and it appears in it’s original form. It is truly inspiring – WT.


Syrian_Refugee_Child_in_Istanbul

Photo captions: By Ahill34 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53280088

I would like to share with you what I consider a perceptive account of my personal experience with the Arab refugees’ situation – particularly Syrians and Iraqis — here in Canada.

I believe most of you know that the Canadian government — in keeping with its humanitarian duties — has been welcoming thousands of refugees, most of whom are fleeing their homelands for a wide array of reasons. However, I assume what most of you do NOT know is that the government is not the sole sponsor for these refugees. Apparently, groups of individuals and private corporations have also been very actively involved in the settlement process of these refugees, either by privately raising funds or by using their own money to sponsor and support people coming from abroad. It turns out that the involvement of the Canadian public dates back to 1979, when Canada started welcoming Vietnamese refugees, something that made Canada a world-class pioneer in such an initiative.

Needless to say, bringing refugees to Canada is just the beginning of a long journey those private sponsors take along with the sponsored refugees, where they venture together into the different possibilities and opportunities awaiting the newcomers in their new home Canada. It is worth mentioning that the amount of resources needed to accommodate the new settlers and assist them in adjusting and acclimatizing to the new environment, are incredulously tremendous. Yet those private sponsors have pledged to do their best to make the lives of their guests as smooth and as comfortable as possible.

For me, this was a stunning revelation. It truly made me question the entire ethical, moral, and ideological systems ingrained in the societies in which I was born and brought up. In fact, hundreds of lingering questions have been bubbling in my head since I came upon these valuable eye opening facts about the refugees’ sponsorship process in Canada. For  starters, it made me think, why on earth would these sponsors go out of their way and go through all the trouble of securing the necessary resources, whether by fundraising or by sharing their own income, to  willingly and all wholeheartedly bring complete strangers, the majority of whom happen to be Muslims, to their home Canada ? Haven’t they heard of xenophobia, for God’s sake? What happened to the ”Islamophobia” narrative? Where did all the animosity the media have been relentlessly trying to feed us go?

Well, apparently Mr. Trump has no audience here, and North America is not after all America! As you will see once you continue reading, fortunately the world is still “Arab and Islam friendly”.

I won’t say I have found the answers to all of my inquiries so far, but I can confidently say I have come to a sound, reasonable understanding, at least for me. I started looking back at the countries I had lived in, mainly in the Arab world, the part of the world where my generation has been struggling, until this very moment, to justify its moral obligation towards those who were facing different forms of hardship, be it war, famine, or natural disasters, and were in need of dire help. Of course, we were expected to fulfil this obligation for some reason. And to be clearer, for some corny, run-of- the mill reason at least from my perspective. There should be a reason, no?

As if the mere idea of lending another human being a hand was not enough, we would frequently hear — particularly in the last few years that followed what has been called the Arab Spring — from those who called themselves scholars and preachers, clichéd justification to legitimize any act of kindness, generosity, or help. For example, we would hear them talk about helping people with whom we shared the same religion, beliefs, history, land or language, or those who belonged to our tribe, race, or sect.

They would go on and on to fill an entire list of vain reasons reflecting centuries of racial and bigoted attitudes.

Sad to say, none of the reasons had to do with our humanity. The message was never as simple and straightforward as “we are morally obliged to help other human beings facing any form of adversity  only for the sake of being humans.” There were always earnest attempts to dig and search for labels, labels laden with bias and prejudice, to apply to those who needed our help, to qualify them and render them help-worthy.

These ignorant attempts have stripped human beings from their perfect sense of humanity. We were unconsciously led to look at those in need from the narrowest, tiniest, and unfortunately ugliest discriminating angle that reflects ages of narrow-minded and shallow thinking.

Going back to the situation here in Canada, I would be lying to say that people here are angels, and that there are no fanatics or extremists. Canada is not the kingdom of heaven , it is just an example of a society that has been trying to put its differences aside and look at the bigger meaningful picture. A lot of people here have been trying to lead a purposeful life where “giving back to the society” is their daily mantra. Those people have created a contagious culture, where volunteer work is valued, respected, and encouraged; where diversity is celebrated, and differences are appreciated. Those are the people who believe that they are meant to live as citizens of the world and don’t limit themselves to the narrow boundaries of their surroundings.

For those of you who know me well, you know that I have no personal gain out of writing these words, nevertheless I found myself morally obliged to share with the rest of the world my deep experience in the midst of global nonsense about race, religion, gender, and nationality. I truly believe that people have been purposefully steered away from the bigger cause of their existence. Instead of peacefully coexisting, and sharing the natural resources available to them, they have been fiercely drawn into endless struggles that have created nothing but frenzy, chaos, and devastation.

Frankly speaking, living in a diverse, inclusive society is not just a blessing, it is a learning experience by itself. It takes living to a whole new level. I believe the learned lesson from my own adventure is that we humans are all part of a bigger beautiful holy puzzle. Each one of us has a crucial, carefully scripted role to play, to make this puzzle a complete masterpiece. Every piece counts, and every single piece is equally important. And that humanity is a priceless value, worth being celebrated by itself.

I would like to invite all of you to share with me this conviction, by pledging to cherish and to live up to our humanity.

Author’s  Statement
Ms. Zayneb Khairy:
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I was born and raised in the Middle East. In 1999 my family came to Canada as immigrants. In 2008 I moved back to the middle east to work as pharmacist as I hold a BS.C in pharmacy. In 2011 I went through an extreme career change, from the health sector to the hospitality  sector, as my family at the time had ventured into the hospitality industry in the Middle East, particularly in Jordan. In 2013 I got married and in 2017 my husband and I decided to move to Vancouver, so here I am back to Canada but this time working as an Arabic / English interpreter for new comers especially refugees who have limited English proficiency.