According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), refugees are “people fleeing conflict or persecution. They are defined and protected in international law, and must not be expelled or returned to situations where their life and freedom are at risk.” Below are 10 facts about the Canadian refugee system.
- The Canadian Refugee system has two primary sections: the Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program and the In-Canada Asylum Program.
- The Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program deals with claims for asylum that come from outside of Canada.
- The In-Canada Asylum Program works to help people making refugee protection claims from within Canada.
- Initial assistance for refugees coming to Canada comes from the federal Canadian government, a private sponsor (such as an organization or wealthy person), or the Province of Quebec.
- Income support for refugees is provided for up to one year or until the refugee/refugee’s family becomes self-sufficient, whichever comes first.
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) funds language training in English and French for incoming refugees who lack the language skills necessary to function successfully in Canada.
- Canada has a long history of accepting refugees, stretching back to 1770 when they allowed Quakers (who were being pushed out of America due to their religious practices) to settle in southern Ontario.
- Canada’s Immigration Act of 1976 required the government to establish targets for immigration and consult explicitly with provinces regarding Canadian immigration (including refugee immigration).
- In 1986, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees awarded the people of Canada the distinguished Nansen medal for their efforts during the Indochina refugee crisis of 1979-1980, wherein Canada helped settle over sixty thousand refugees.
- Currently, as part of the #WelcomeRefugees initiative, Canada has been resettling Syrian refugees across the country. As of June 2016, the government resettled upwards of 28,000 Syrian refugees.
– Bayley McComb
Photo: Migration Bureau Corp.