To mark World Refugee Day on June 22, the SEIU-West Multicultural Mentorship Committee (MMC) interviewed Christopher Angala, a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant and a member of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC) who shared his thoughts on the state of immigration for refugees during COVID-19.
What do you do and how long have you been doing it?
I run and operate a small business in the City of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, with the intent of providing immigration and employment services to foreign applicants in order for them to legally and safely obtain their temporary and/or permanent residency in Canada. I’ve been doing this since 2017.
Who are refugees and why do they move to other countries?
Canada offers refugee protection to people who face persecution in their home country or the country where they normally live, or who would face persecution if they returned to that country. Canada recognizes two types of refugees; Convention Refugees and Refugee Claimants.
What are the challenges facing refugees globally and within Canada right now with a pandemic?
The COVID-19 pandemic poses new challenges that policy-makers must respond to in the coming weeks and months. These new challenges indicate long-term trends that will persist for decades due to future pandemics and climate change: new types of refugees and peaks and valleys of migration flows in response to intermittent border closures.
Like climate change, pandemics pose a global risk that could disproportionately impact developing countries. Since February, COVID-19 has inflicted chaos in many countries with world-class health care systems and high-functioning state infrastructures. Just imagine how COVID-19 may critically weaken or even devastate public services in countries with high levels of conflict, socio-economic inequality, or corruption.
Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) is already projecting that African countries could be severely hit by COVID-19. In order to meet this new challenge, the cabinet can do a lot with targeted development aid.
However, given the long-term trajectory of forced migration, Canada policy-makers must anticipate receiving people who are fleeing displacement not because of persecution but because of pandemics, climate change and natural disasters that will make it difficult, and in some cases impossible, for people to return to their countries of origin.
How can we help refugees in our communities?
Being a Refugee is tough, it's burdensome. Nobody dreamed and wished to be one among them. Refugees are human beings too - just less-fortunate than many others. Many of them suffered similar dilemmas of having to face the risk to life, the danger of torture or cruelty, and unusual treatment or punishment in a country they never thought will become the center of devastations, havoc and extreme fear.
Wherever you are, consider volunteering with an organization that works with newcomers and refugees in your area. There are several federally funded organizations that may be in need of resources. Visit Volunteer Canada’s website for ideas or seek out volunteer opportunities in your community.
New refugees have immediate needs, including furniture, clothing, food, dishes, and much more as they resettle in Canada. Canadians can help by donating money to local organizations such as Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAHs) that help support newcomers in Canada. If you want to find out if an organization is a registered Canadian charity that can issue tax receipts, you can check the charity listings with the List of Charities website.