NEWS

35 Haitian women denied visas to attend art show

08/19/2012 04:45 EDT | Updated 10/19/2012 05:12 EDT
For the second time this week, organizers of an event in Montreal are scrambling after Citizenship and Immigration Canada blocked participants from traveling to the city.

Members of Montreal's Haitian community were forced to cancel an art exhibit because 35 women from Haiti, who were supposed to participate, couldn't get temporary visas.

Caroline Thélémaque, with Women in Action for Haiti, said she couldn't believe Immigration Canada withheld temporary visas for all the participants in the exhibit she was organizing.

She said her group has been working on the show for nearly a year.

Thélémaque said the federal government told her it needed more evidence the women would return home after the exhibit.

"We really vetted these women. We made sure that these women are women that travel, you know, in conferences, fighting for the women of Haiti," she said.

This week, the government also refused to let a team of soccer players from Morocco come to Montreal.

Immigration lawyer Stewart Istvanffy said this type of rejection is nothing new.

"It's been going on for a decade or two, I think that the immigration department does not like refugees and wants to have more control of who gets into this country," he said.

No one from Immigration Canada was available to comment on this issue.

But earlier this week, when asked about the Moroccan soccer players, it said the onus is on foreigners trying to get into the country to prove they will only stay temporarily.

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