The Syrian refugee crisis broughttheneeds ofrefu- gees to the forefront of Canadians and galvanized
multiple congregations across
Canada to sponsor them. But there
is another category of newcomers
to Canada who also need help.
They are the refugees who arrive
in Canada by “land, sea or air,” and
make their claim for refugee status
in Canada at our borders having al-
ready managed to arrive here. They
are called refugee claimants, asylum
seekers or “Convention refugees.”
Unlike the sponsored refugees
brought in from other countries,
refugee claimants do not receive
resettlement assistance from Cit-
izenship and Immigration Canada.
When they arrive at our borders,
many are alone and afraid, and do
not know where to receive help.
Canada is a signatory of the 1951
United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which
allows claimants to remain in
Canada until their case is heard
before a judge from the independent Immigration and Refugee
Board of Canada. Convention
refugee status is granted to those
“They are the ones
about whom much
of the Canadian
very little, whose
plight is often
and who are
have made up the
largest number of
– ANNE WOOLGER , founder of
Matthew House, Toronto
We are all familiar with refugees brought to Canada by the
government or private sponsors. But what about those who
arrive unannounced on our doorstep?
What you can do…
• Find out more about the issues facing all types of refugees welcomed by
Canada. The Refugee Highway Partnership ( www.rhpna.com) is an excellent
place to start with resource toolkits to mobilize the Church to action.
• Find out if your community has a shelter for refugees, like Matthew House
( www.matthewhouse.ca) and see what help they need.
• Learn about the Middle East Refugees Resettlement Initiative at
PEOPLE WHO MADE
ASYLUM CLAIMS IN
CANADA IN 2014.
W W W.CANADA. CA
Please pray for the public policy work of
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. You
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donate or toll-free 1-866-302-3362. Read more of
these columns at www.faithtoday.ca/AtIssue.
claimants determined to have a
well-founded fear of persecution,
or are at risk of torture or cruel or
unusual punishment in their
While awaiting their hearing
they are eligible to receive basic
Refugee claimants fall under the
In-Canada Asylum program, while
those pre-approved as refugees
while waiting in other countries
fall under the Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement program.
Anne Woolger, founder of Matthew House in Toronto, a shelter
for refugee claimants, explains.
“These two refugee groups (
sponsored and unsponsored) often
come from the same countries and
have the same experiences of
trauma and torture.
‘lucky’ ones are granted permanent
secure status and core support
upon arrival, while the other group
[refugee claimants], while equally
in need of protection, often have no
one to welcome or assist them, and
they are anxious about whether or
not they will be accepted to stay