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Premier Wall’s Letter Reinforces Stereotypes About Refugees: Advocacy Group

Written by  iPolitics.ca Tuesday, 17 November 2015 06:45
Syrian refugee children in a Lebanese school classroom.
Syrian refugee children in a Lebanese school classroom. Photo Credit: DFID - UK Department for International Development via Flickr CC

by Janice Dickson in Ottawa

A refugee advocacy group says it is concerned about Premier Brad Wall’s letter asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to suspend the resettlement of 25,000 Syrian refugees in the wake of reports that one of the Paris ISIS attackers entered Europe in the Syrian refugee influx.

“It’s very disappointing that a leader like that would come out with such a position. The government has always been clear that nobody is talking about skipping security clearances for the refugees. Refugees are people who are victims of exactly the kind of bombing we saw in France,” said the executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, Janet Dench.

In a letter to Trudeau, the Saskatchewan premier says he is concerned about fast-tracking refugee claims and that doing so could undermine refugee screening. Wall wrote that the attacks in Paris are a reminder of what can happen when a small number of dangerous individuals make their way into a country. He’s calling on Trudeau to re-evaluate his goal, a campaign promise, of resettling 25,000 Syrian refugees by January 1.

“Our main concern is the unfair association being made between refugees and a security risk — it has a broad impact in terms of how refugees are treated.”

Dench said she hopes that as people respond to the horrific events that happened in Paris Friday they will be even more sympathetic to fellow humans fleeing violence, on a much larger scale in Syria.

“I was disappointed about Premier Wall because he has, in the past, spoken in a very humane way about refugees being deprived of health care and here he’s jumping to a conclusion in a public way and this unfortunately tends to reinforce stereotypes that are completely unfair,” said Dench.

Wall isn’t alone in his reaction. In the U.S., several governors have said they intend to halt efforts to allow Syrian refugees from entering their states.

Dench insists refugees coming to Canada are subject to intense security and they receive much closer scrutiny than people who arrive as visitors.

People tend to focus their attention on refugees as security risks, said Dench, and suggested we think about people who have committed atrocities in Canada recently, “people born in Canada, not refugees,” she said, referencing the murder of Patrice Vincent who had been deliberately run down in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo who was shot and killed at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.

“Our main concern is the unfair association being made between refugees and a security risk — it has a broad impact in terms of how refugees are treated,” said Dench.

With files from the Canadian Press 


Re-published in partnership with iPolitics.ca

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