Updated: Aug 16, 2019
Today, June 20 (2019), is World Refugee Day
Canada is recognized around the world for opening its doors to refugees and leading the way as a country that offers refuge to those who need protection.
Feeling displaced in your own country is a feeling that is unimaginable to many. For many Canadians, they feel the safest and most comfortable when they are home, but that is not the reality for so many around the world.
The UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) states that approximately 70.8 million people are forcibly displaced around the world - meaning they don't have a choice but to leave where they are living. There are also approximately 25.9 million refugees around the world, the largest amounts coming from Sudan, Afghanistan, and Syria.
In Canada, a refugee is very different than an immigrant. An immigrant in Canada has chosen to migrate through one of the various paths of immigration (i.e. family sponsorship, express entry system, and so on). Refugees, however, are forced to leave their country due to war, political persecution and fear for their lives and that of their family's.
Canada is a country that provides a safe haven for those who can no longer stay in their home country.
Canada's refugee system is divided into two (2) parts:
People who need refuge from outside of Canada through the Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program
People making a refugee claim inside of Canada through the In-Canada Asylum Program
Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program
Those who need to flee their countries (or have already fled) due to fear or persecution and would like to apply for refugee status in Canada, do not apply directly to the country. The UNHCR (United Nations Refugee Agency), along with private sponsors, identifies refugees for resettlement (canada.ca).
There are several different types of private sponsors such as:
Sponsorship Agreement Holders who have an agreement with the Canadian government, many of whom are community organizations
Private sponsors under the Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) Program
In-Canada Asylum Program
Those who are already in Canada (perhaps on a visitor visa) can apply for refugee status if they believe and can prove that they:
have a well-founded fear of persecution, OR
are at risk of torture, or cruel or unusual punishment in their home countries
In addition, the government of Canada offers many settlement programs and services for refugees and newcomers alike, such as:
For refugees: income support for eligible clients for up to 1 year, welcoming them at the port of entry into Canada, helping them find a place to live, helping them become familiar with Canada, referrals to other federal or provincial programs (through the Resettlement Assistance Program)
ability to become familiar with life in Canada before arriving through the Canadian Orientation Abroad program
free English or French language courses to be able to communicate and perform every day tasks in one of Canada's official languages
free Occupation-Specific Language Training (OSLT) courses for Convention Refugees/Protected Persons and Permanent Residents who are skilled professionals from their home countries, who already are high-intermediate speakers in English or French but need to fill the gap between their occupation in their home country and their professional career in Canada
support services such as child care, transportation, resources for people with disabilities, and short-term/crisis counselling
On World Refugee Day, we want to recognize those that have found refuge in countries such as Canada, but we also want to recognize those who are still fighting and seeking refuge as they face fear and persecution in their home countries.
Al Jazeera, an international news channel, has posted 'must-watch' videos to commemorate this day and shine light on the every day lives of refugees across the world. We have posted a few below. Take a few moments to watch:
'Welcome to Italy: Migrant Tales of Survival':
Visit the UNHCR's World Refugee Day website below to learn more and see how you can get involved or share: