We need to see, and enable others to see, that migrants and refugees do not only represent a problem to be solved, but are brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved.
— Pope Francis
The Office for Refugees at the Diocese of Hamilton is an impassioned, three-person team. We are dedicated to the protection of refugees and the advancement of refugee rights. We are inspired to serve in the spirit of Pope Francis and grateful for the enduring leadership and support of Bishop Crosby in this special area. We indiscriminately serve those who have been forcibly displaced and are living in countries of asylum across the world, irrespective of political affiliation, religious background or sexual/gender orientation.
The Office for Refugees runs a refugee protection program that is premised on key human rights enshrined in international law, including:
1. Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 1 - All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights
Article 14 - Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
2. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees:
Article 3 - The Contracting States shall apply the provisions of this Convention to refugees without discrimination as to race, religion or country of origin.
Our program also serves to honour the refugee objectives of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA):
|A3(2)(a)||To recognize that the refugee program is in the first instance about saving lives and offering protection to the displaced and persecuted;|
|A3(2)(b)||To fulfil Canada’s international legal obligations with respect to refugees and affirm Canada’s commitment to international efforts to provide assistance to those in need of resettlement;|
|A3(2)(d)||To offer safe haven to persons with a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group, as well as those at risk of torture or cruel and unusual treatment or punishment;|
|A3(2)(f)||To support the self-sufficiency and the social and economic well-being of refugees by facilitating reunification with their family members in Canada|
Securing protection solutions that enable refugees to live their lives in dignity and peace is a core component of the work of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). This is the priority work of our Office for Refugees.
In the global context, there are three primary durable solutions for refugees:
- Voluntary Repatriation: The vast majority of refugees dream of returning home. According to UNHCR, voluntary repatriation is “the durable solution of choice for the largest number of refugees.” Unfortunately, due to the protracted nature of so many conflicts across the world, the necessary conditions frequently do not manifest in order to allow for safe repatriation and reintegration
- Local Integration: In cases where repatriation is not a viable option, refugees may be able to find a permanent home in the country of asylum in which they reside, accessing permanents rights and protections to integrate in the host country and local community. A recent example of this is the Turkish government, which has made citizenship status available to some Syrian refugees living on its soil. Canada makes available a pathway to a permanent, local integration for refugees in two ways: 1) Individuals who flee to Canada and make a successful refugee claim with the Immigration and Refugee Board have access to permanent residence and ultimately, to citizenship; 2) Refugees that are resettled to Canada from a country of asylum overseas arrive in this country with permanent resident status and have the ability to apply for citizenship once they can meet the eligibility requirements
- Resettlement: The vast majority of the world’s refugees cannot return home and cannot locally integrate in their host country of asylum. As a result, refugees may find a solution in the form of resettlement to a third country. ‘Resettlement’ effectively means the transfer of refugees from a country of asylum to a new State, one that has agreed to admit them and ultimately, to grant them permanent residence. While Canada, the United States of America and Australia are the three world leaders in global resettlement, the reality is that less than one per cent of the worlds refugee population is offered this solution on an annual basis
The special work of the Office for Refugees at the Diocese of Hamilton centers on the third durable solution for refugees: resettlement.
In partnership with Canada’s federal immigration department (IRCC), our Office for Refugees partners with individuals, parishes and community organizations across the geographic jurisdiction of the Diocese of Hamilton to advocate for refugee rights and protect refugees through the preparation and submission of refugee sponsorship applications.