Just before the end of the year, Lucia Vega Jiminez took her own life while in immigration detention at the Vancouver airport. That a young woman in good health would take her own life is deeply unsettling, and an inconsolable loss to those who loved her. Beyond this, there are at least four things seriously troubling about this story that all Canadians should be concerned about.
During a brief vacation away with my Greek immigrant parents in sunny Florida, I had the serenity to engage them in several wonderful lengthy chats about their past (always a favourite topic of mine) and to quietly observe them. These are the additional gems that I have gained from my parents' experiences.
A common misconception by most Canadians is that all immigrants (regardless of country of origin, religious background, ethnicity) face a common set of experiences (opportunities and challenges) as a group. There-in lies the basis of misunderstanding of the immigrant phenomenon by most Canadian-born residents.
On Monday, Cabinet Minister Joe Oliver made a federal funding announcement at Toronto General Hospital. However, within minutes of Minister Oliver taking the podium, something truly exceptional occurred; emergency room doctor Chris Keefer walked boldly up to the front of the room. Despite attempts by a hospital administrator to shut down Keefer's interruption, he nonetheless persisted.
To many individuals and families around the world, Canada is rightfully regarded as a resettlement destination that offers immigrants and new Canadians a range of freedom. Why then, is there a legal obligation for individuals to take a solemn oath of allegiance to faithfully serve the Queen, her heirs and successors in order to gain full access to the democratic protections of Canadian citizenship?
If Bill C-31, "Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act," passes in parliament, Canada will lose its reputation for fairness and human rights and, more importantly, hundreds if not thousands of people's lives will be adversely affected. Refugees would be ineligible to sponsor any immediate family members and these refugees would be second-class people in Canada.
Every year, the flow of people fluctuated according to supply and demand. Some years, a total of 60,000 people were allowed in, and some others years 150,000. This guaranteed that immigrants found work because they were screened properly to insure their success. Then in 1986 the Mulroney government opened up the floodgates.