Indigenous-based Immigration Initiatives in 2020 – What We Hope To Do More of In 2021

Award-Winning Canadian Immigration and Refugee Law and Commentary Blog

Many new readers and fans of our blog ask why we have an Indigenous logo and make Indigenous issues, decolonization, and indigenizing a huge part of our mandate and our writing.

We believe that immigration, as part of a settler colonialist system, has facilitate the loss of Indigenous lands, the historically correct approach is to try and both return Indigenous sovereignty to immigration decisions and as well build deeper relations between Settlers and Indigenous communities and promote understanding, pay reparations to the harm.

This year, we contributed financially (through the proceeds of an award) to the Urban Native Youth Association. UNYA does incredible work connecting Indigenous mentees with community mentors.

We also wrote on how to better reflect Indigenous ways of thinking into the IAD process.

WT - Founders Award Paper - FINAL

We made sure with all teaching and lectures to begin with a traditional and territorial acknowledgment but do so in a way that was reflective of historical harm as well as on-going gratitude.

We have joined an Anti-Racism Committee for the Canadian Bar Association National Immigration Section where we are looking to try and recognize how silent we have collectively been on Indigenous-Immigrant issues and Indigenous representation in our profession.

Finally, we supported the Umista Cultural Centre ( and as well as other local Indigenous artists through purchases and contracts for services.

We recognize this is but a starting point and that we need to substantially engage more in the law. I will be also very honest about a shortcoming. This year I had the chance to engage in a Federal Court matter involving an H&C refusal of an American Indigenous man. It was a file that I was supposed to take on, passed on to me a by previous Firm departure. I felt a bit overwhelmed with my existing case load and didn’t feel prepared enough with time to research and build knowledge. Thankfully a colleague of mine, with significant ties to major community organizations, was able to take it on and coordinate interveners. This case likely will be a significant step into developing important jurisprudence. It’s something I will take as a regret and a promise to do better heading into 2021.

On the topic of the future, I hope with our new non-profit, the Arenous Foundation, that we can invest in Indigenous-community based projects to better explore the relationship between Indigenous communities and Canadian Immigration, supporting Indigenous-based scholarship and activism.

Look forward to collaborating in 2021. Feel free to reach out to see how we can work together!

About Us

Will Tao is an Award-Winning Canadian Immigration and Refugee Lawyer, Writer, and Policy Advisor based in Vancouver. Vancouver Immigration Blog is a public legal resource and social commentary


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