"We really have to think about the impact that delays or bars to family reunification have, both on refugee newcomers who are separated from their loved ones, and on Canadian society. We cannot expect people to integrate and "get on with their lives" when their loved ones have been left behind in poverty, facing persecution, or in dangerous situations.
"We need to consider how we ourselves would react to being separated, for years or even permanently, from our child, our spouse, our parents, brothers, sisters, etc. How would we feel knowing that they were still living a precarious existence, while we were safe in Canada and being expected to learn a new language, adjust to a new culture, and become productive members of society? In that situation I know that I personally would use every ounce of energy I had to reunite my family before worrying about my own settlement and integration issues."
The reasons cited for the long delays include: The permanent resident application for the person in Canada must be granted before the family members outside Canada are able to travel here, this may take up to a year; medical examinations are current only for a year so if processing takes longer examinations must be repeated; proving relationship is often difficult because of inability to produce identity documents; DNA testing may be required.
Carolyn Vanderlip describes the delays as a "terrible situation for the newcomer to Canada, and a terrible situation for Canada - instead of working on settlement and integration into Canadian society, people are caught in limbo, concentrating on trying to reunite with their family members."
This April 4th, Refugee Rights Day, take action to persuade politicians that policies and practices must be changed to promote speedy family reunification and to encourage the federal government to make speedy family reunification a priority.
You can do this by endorsing the Manifesto on Family Reunification. Many groups including the PWRDF and KAIROS already have.
Endorsing the Manifesto on Family Reunification is an easy process:
We recognize that all refugees and immigrants contribute to society and that the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society, which governments have an obligation to protect, under international human rights law.
We affirm as central the need to respect the integrity of the family unit and ensure that families are not separated for any longer than is absolutely necessary. We further recognize that the notion of 'family' has different meanings in different cultural contexts, and encourage a definition of 'family' that is as broad and as inclusive as possible in order to fully respect the reality of many family clusters.
We have particular concerns for children separated from their parents and affirm that speedy family reunification should be of the highest priority for any society that cares for the best interests of the child....
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