Community agencies urging Markham Mayor and Council to welcome refuees

Community News & Features Aug 1, 2018 at 6:51 pm
Mayor Frank Scarpitti

Mayor Frank Scarpitti

The proposal by the Mayor of Markham to open up unused schools for asylum seekers has unleashed latent xenophobia and intolerance against refugees within certain segments of the Chinese Canadian community.

To counter the growing, ill-informed stigma against refugees, Centre for Immigrant and Community Services (CICS) and Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic (CSALC) issue a joint statement on Aug. 1, 2018 in support of Mayor Frank Scarpitti’s decision to welcome refugees.

“As agencies that provide services and advocate for immigrants and refugees, we are deeply concerned about the attitudes of intolerance and misunderstanding surrounding refugees in our communities,” said Moy Wong-Tam, Executive Director of CICS.  “We know there are many in our community who reject these misguided views, so we decided to reach out to our partner agencies to stand in solidarity with the marginalized among us,” added Wong-Tam.

“It is indeed ironic that the Chinese Canadian community had spent over 20 years fighting for Redress for the blatantly racist Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act, only now to turn our back on individuals who are desperately seeking a chance for safety and a new life in Canada,” said Avvy Go, Clinic Director, CSALC.  “We have clients who are fleeing persecution from countries like China, and are able to make a refugee claim in Canada even though they had entered Canada by irregular means.  They and all other refugees have the same right to do so because of Canada’s legal obligation to comply with the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees,” said Go.

Avvy Go

Avvy Go

“More than 30 years ago, the Chinese Canadian community was in the forefront helping tens of thousands of Indochinese boatpeople resettle in Canada.   Since then, the generosity of Canadians has been repaid tenfold by the contributions made by many of these refugees,” said Dr. Joseph Wong, Founding Chair of Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care.

The statement applauds Mayor Scarpitti for his leadership on this issue and encourages him to stand up against intolerance.

The statement has been endorsed by a number of community organizations which serve residents of Markham.   CICS and CSALC are still receiving additional endorsements and will be submitting the statement to the Mayor and City Council of Markham later today.

In addition to issuing this statement, CICS and CSALC will also engage in broader public education within the Chinese community, in order to dispel unfounded fear based on myths regarding refugees.  CICS has translated into Chinese a factsheet on refugees produced by OCASI – Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants.  CICS and CSALC will be disseminating the fact sheet within its respective network.

The joint statement can be found at: https://www.cicscanada.com/articles/130/Markham_Should_Open_its_Door_to_Refugees

The OCASI fact sheet can be found here: http://www.ocasi.org/refugee-claimants-myths-and-facts.

(PRESS RELEASE)