If Sara Maria Gomez Lopez could do one thing, it would be to end the stigma associated with the word “refugee”.
“Being a refugee is a circumstance, it’s not a lifestyle. It’s not a choice,” said Gomez Lopez, a refugee from Mexico who arrived in Canada via Blaine, Wash., in 2012.
On the same day that Premier John Horgan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke out against the forced separation of asylum-seeking families in the U.S., Gomez Lopez wanted people to remember that irrespective of changes in policy, the circumstance of being a refugee almost always separates families. “For every refugee separated from their family, their language, their home, there is trauma.”
Gomez Lopez was on hand on Wednesday as the Immigrant Services Society marked World Refugee Day with the release of a report, Refugee Claimants in B.C.: Understanding Irregular Arrival Trends.
ISS also announced it is piloting of a two-way texting tool, newcomer.info, that will help ISS provide information to, and communicate with, asylum seekers throughout B.C.
The texting tool was developed by ISS in conjunction with the Vancouver Community Network which also developed StreetMessenger, a communication service for the homeless. ISS hopes the innovative tool will help manage the increased demand for services.
Chris Friesen, the director of settlement services at ISS, said that irregular arrivals in B.C. have increased, with 67 per cent of asylum-seekers arriving at a land-based crossing, either by walking across the Canada-U.S. border (59 per cent) or by entering one of Canada Border Services Agency’s land-based ports of entry (eight per cent).
Most respondents reported spending less than a year in the U.S., an indication, said Friesen, that recent asylum seekers entered the U.S. with a legal visa for the express purpose of continuing on to Canada.
Factors influencing the arrival of asylum seekers in B.C. include human rights …read more
Source:: Vancouver Sun