Canadians gather in B.C. to demand safe passage to Europe for Syrian refugees

VANCOUVER -- A choir sings hymns of peace on a downtown Vancouver beach while a small dinghy gently coasts ashore and a dozen people in life jackets, including a young boy, alight onto the sand.

See Full Article

The display, which took place on Saturday, was staged in solidarity with the tens of thousands of refugees and migrants who have embarked on the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean, fleeing conflict and looking for a new life in Europe.

Demonstrators gathered on the Pacific shoreline to add their voices to a global call for governments to offer people seeking asylum with safe transportation to Europe.

Vancouver was the only Canadian centre to participate in the event, dubbed Safe Passage, which took place in more than 120 cities, mostly within Europe.

Syrian immigrant Danny Ramadan, 32, stressed to the gathered throng, many of whom held signs with the line .safepassage4all, that migrants and refugees are just like ordinary Canadians.

"When we talk about Syrian people now, we stereotype them as refugees, as if they were born into seeking refuge. ... We forget that they did not make that journey because they can. They did it because they had to," Ramadan said.

"Refugees used to be peaceful citizens in a beautiful country. ... They had no choice but to run and they deserve to find a place to call home."

The United Nations estimates 410 people have died or gone missing so far this year while trying to cross the Mediterranean. In 2014 that figure hit 3,500 before peaking the following year at 3,771.

John Skene of Victoria, who co-organized Saturday's event, was inspired to travel to the Greek island of Lesbos for three weeks last November, helping small aid groups with camp operations and beach rescues.

"I had read an article of a woman begging a volunteer to kill her family when they had landed on a beach because she was in such distress," he said. "The next day I booked a ticket.

"I'm not going to fix the world but I can at least make somebody's journey a bit more comfortable."

On Saturday, the federal Liberal government reached its goal of bringing 25,000 Syrians to Canada by the end of February.

The Liberal's campaign promise to achieve that target by the end of 2015 was pushed back once it became apparent the deadline wouldn't be met.

Finding both temporary and permanent housing for the newly arrived publicly sponsored refugees remained a challenge for the federal government's resettlement program.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Alta. mom's boyfriend charged in death of 16-month-old

    Canada News CTV News
    COLD LAKE, Alta. -- RCMP in east-central Alberta say they have arrested the boyfriend of a woman whose 16-month-old daughter died last summer. Veronica Poitras was brought to the hospital in Cold Lake by a family member on Aug. Source
  • Ontario Civil Liberties Association accuses Dalhousie of censorship over 'white fragility' investigation

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    HALIFAX — A Canadian civil liberties group is accusing Dalhousie University of censoring the political expression of a student leader under investigation for her social media comments. In a letter to Dalhousie president Richard Florizone, the Ontario Civil Liberties Association says the university is using its disciplinary powers to suppress freedom of speech. Source
  • FBI: Florida man's ISIS-inspired attack foiled by fake bomb

    World News CTV News
    MIAMI -- A Florida man who described himself as a sympathizer of the Islamic State extremist group faces terrorism-related charges stemming from a purported plot to bomb a Miami-area shopping mall, according to court documents filed Monday. Source
  • Dalhousie University accuses of censoring political expression

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX -- A Canadian civil liberties group is accusing Dalhousie University of censoring the political expression of a student leader under investigation for her social media comments. In a letter to Dalhousie president Richard Florizone, the Ontario Civil Liberties Association says the university is using its disciplinary powers to suppress freedom of speech. Source
  • Niqab will become bigger problem in years to come

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    The niqab conversation in Canada isn’t going away anytime soon. Don’t think that whatever happens with Quebec’s Bill 62, whether it lives or dies, is going to neatly solve the issue and put it to bed for good. Source
  • Czech billionaire Babis, fresh off election win, sets out coalition demands

    World News CBC News
    Czech billionaire Andrej Babis, the runaway winner of last weekend's parliamentary election, said Monday he wanted to form a governing coalition with a stable partner, and a minority government was an unrealistic plan. Babis's search for government partners is running into trouble. Source
  • Some 600,000 refugees later, Ottawa digs in on dealing with Myanmar on Rohingya crisis

    World News CBC News
    As a growing number of Canadians demanded action on the Rohingya crisis — many calling for Ottawa to revoke the Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi's honorary Canadian citizenship — Karen MacArthur was flying over Northern Rakhine state, ground zero for the Rohingya's plight. Source
  • Trudeau names ex-Ontario premier Bob Rae as special envoy to Myanmar

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    OTTAWA — Former Ontario premier Bob Rae has been named a special envoy to Myanmar. He will be advising Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the southeast Asian country. Nearly 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state since late August to escape persecution that the United Nations has called ethnic cleansing. Source
  • Man hit with assault charges after severed fingers allegedly strike cop

    World News Toronto Sun
    An Oregon man faces an assault charge after allegedly hitting a cop with fingers that exploded off his hand. Cops say pieces of Portland resident Jason Schaefer's mangled left hand struck a federal agent. The Oregonian reported cops showed up to Schaefer's Northwest Portland home on Oct. Source
  • Russian journalist stabbed in neck by man who claimed to have 'telepathic contact' with her: Police

    World News Toronto Sun
    MOSCOW — A well-known journalist for Russia’s top independent radio station was stabbed in the throat Monday by an unidentified attacker who burst into her studio — the latest in a string of attacks on journalists and opposition activists in Moscow. Source