Eritrean refugee Selam Measho arrives in St. John on special temporary permit

CBC News Posted: May 15, 2015 9:00 AM NT Last Updated: May 15, 2015 3:22 PM NT

A young Eritrean woman who went missing five years ago is thanking friends and supporters for helping to reunite her with her family in St. John’s.

Selam Measho, 21, took to the stage of the West End Baptist Church on Thursday to tell her story of fleeing from a Libyan refugee camp when she was just 16.

Measho described how the camp was burned to the ground and how she was then was fooled by a woman into believing her parents had been killed, flew her to an airport in Holland and then abandoned her at the airport.

Selam Measho and motherSelam Measho was reunited with her mother and sisters following a poster campaign which she eventually found out about. (CBC)

From there, she called police, alone and scared in a foreign country.

“One day the Red Cross called me and said ‘you must come here,’” she said.

“When I got there, they showed me the picture of my mother. I felt like I was dead and I was just born new.”

From Libya, to Europe and then Newfoundland

Little did Measho know but her mother and two sisters had arrived in St. John’s as refugees two years ago.

Friends and supporters in Newfoundland and Labrador started a poster campaign that resulted in Measho seeing her mother’s picture in a Dutch Red Cross station.

In early April, the family was reunited.

“Everybody shouting and crying, and running,” she said.

“I didn’t know what to do, I am so happy to be with my mother and my sisters.”

For now, Measho will stay in St. John’s on a special temporary permit, and her supporters say they won’t stop until she becomes a permanent resident.

With files from Azzo Rezori

Edmonton welcomes Syrian refugees

‘I feel like I have come back to life again’

Edmonton offers hope to Syrian refugees

Syrian refugee Hala Aldajani and her family received a warm welcome at Edmonton International Airport in Edmonton on May 12, 2015.

Photograph by: Bruce Edwards , Edmonton Journal

EDMONTON – Tears, kisses and embraces greeted a Syrian family in the arrivals area at Edmonton International Airport.

The scene evoked the tenderness and joy of a family reunion, but not everyone gathered knew Mohamed Al Masalmi, his wife Hala Al Dajani or their five children. Many were strangers, Christian and Muslim, who had simply come to welcome them Tuesday night to their new lives in Canada.

The family had arrived from Syria, by way of neighbouring Arab countries and the work of two local groups that forged a partnership to ensure refugees from one of the world’s biggest humanitarian disasters can make a home in Edmonton.

“I feel like I have come back to life again,” Al Masalmi said through a translator, while members of the Islamic Family and Social Services Association and the Mennonite Central Committee looked on.

His youngest son, age five, buried his face in his mother’s skirt.

It was the children who made the arrival so emotional, said Huda Mawed, a distant relative of the family.

“It’s just nice to see them safe and out of harm,” a teary Mawed said.

The Syrian conflict erupted in 2011. It has left almost four million people as refugees. The Mennonite Central Committee in Alberta, which has a decades-long tradition of privately sponsoring refugees, wanted to assist the families affected by the catastrophic civil war.

Through community connections, the Mennonite group partnered with Islamic Family and Social Services Association, or IFSSA, to find families to sponsor. The Mennonite organization holds a refugee sponsorship arrangement with the federal government.

“The missing piece from IFSSA is they have no sponsorship arrangement with the government,” said Donna Entz, with the Mennonite Church of Alberta. The Mennonite Central Committee “is ultimately responsible, because we signed the papers, but there’s been a memo of understanding between IFSSA and us that (they) are responsible for the settlement, providing the housing for the year and helping find them a job.”

Entz spent most of her adult life with the Mennonite Church in Burkina Faso in Africa and returned to Canada in 2010.

Filipino caregiver Karen Talosig must choose between her daughter and Canada

Torstar News Service Karen Talosig (right) returned to Iguig, Cagayan, Philippines, to attend the elementary school graduation of her daughter, Jazmine.

Filipino caregiver Karen Talosig is faced with the choice of giving up her teenage daughter in the Philippines or her dream of permanent residence in Canada.

After waiting in the queue for her immigrant status for five years, Talosig received a letter from Citizenship and Immigration Canada this week that her 14-year-old daughter, Jazmine, has been found “medically inadmissible” to join her in Canada because she is deaf.

While immigration officials speculated Jazmine’s deafness could cost Canadians $91,500 for health-related services over five years, Talosig said the girl is just a normal kid and does not require any special care.

“Jazmine loves photography. She loves dancing. She enjoys cooking with my mom. She likes Selena Gomez like a lot of teenagers do even though she can’t hear her music,” said Talosig, 38, who says she works four jobs, up to 80 hours a week, looking after children, the elderly and a paraplegic client in Vancouver.

“She is very independent, highly functional. The only difference is she is deaf. She was born so profoundly deaf that even a hearing aid is not needed. To me, the government’s decision is discriminatory.”

A registered nurse in the Philippines, Talosig came to Canada in 2007 under the then live-in caregiver program. In 2010, she worked enough hours to qualify for permanent residency and submitted her application.

OTTAWA: Amir Attaran argues that parental sponsorship program is “discriminatory”

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Amir Attaran argued that the parental sponsorship program discriminated against parents and grandparents by delaying the processing of their applications.


Amir Attaran argued that the parental sponsorship program discriminated against parents and grandparents by delaying the processing of their applications.

By:  Immigration reporter, Published on Fri Feb 06 2015

An appeal court has found that the federal government discriminates against parents and grandparents by delaying their immigration processing.

The Federal Court of Appeal ruling this week is a partial victory for Amir Attaran, a University of Ottawa law and medicine professor who applied in 2009 to sponsor his aging parents, both American citizens, to Canada under the family class immigration program.

The parental sponsorship program follows a two-step process: the Canadian sponsor has to be assessed for eligibility before the parents or grandparents can be screened for their permanent residency application.

In 2010, Attaran complained to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, claiming that the program discriminated against parents and grandparents by delaying the processing of their applications.

At the time of his complaint, it took immigration 42 days to screen the sponsors of spouses and children but the same screening took 37 months for those who wanted to bring their parents and grandparents to Canada.

The commission, however, dismissed his complaint, a decision later upheld by a federal judge.

In a ruling released Wednesday, the Federal Court of Appeal said the decision by the human rights commission to dismiss the complaint was unreasonable.

It overturned the lower court decision that there was a “bona fide” justification for the differential treatment. The court referred Attaran’s case back to human rights commission for reconsideration.

“The explanations provided by CIC (Citizenship and Immigration Canada) confirm that it was differentiating adversely based on family status by treating sponsorship applications for parents more slowly than sponsorship applications for spouses and children,” wrote Justice Wyman W. Webb on behalf of the three-member panel. “As a result, CIC was carrying on a discriminatory practice.”


OTTAWA: Couple granted permanent residency, young son stuck in India

Adami: Ottawa couple granted permanent residency — but young son stuck in India

Published on: Last Updated: 

Aman Sood, right, and Bhavna Bajaj have permanent resident status in Canada but unfortunately, they are not allowed to bring their 3 1/2 years old son into Canada.Jean Levac / Ottawa CitizenIt is a shameful mess that hopefully Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander can fix in order to reunite a heartbroken mother and father with their 3 1/2-year-old boy in India.

Bhavna Bajaj, 30, and Aman Sood, 29, are permanent residents who will qualify for Canadian citizenship in a year. They have been separated from their son, Daksh, for almost two years, and, as the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act stands now, the little boy has no chance of ever being admitted to this country.

The couple made the key mistake of not indicating prior to leaving for Canada — after being accepted as permanent residents under the skilled workers category — that they had become parents while their application was being processed.

CALGARY: Anya Sass can bring her Syrian husband to Canada

CBC News Posted: Nov 06, 2014 10:02 AM MT Last Updated: Nov 06, 2014 10:03 AM MT

A Calgary woman living in Syria says she is thrilled she can finally bring her husband home with her to Canada.

Anya Sass married Syrian-born Habib Alibrahim​ while travelling in the Middle East three years ago.

As violence escalated in Syria, the couple tried to get out of Damascus but was told his visa application would take two years to process.

But this week she received an email that it had been approved after only seven months.

“We feel a big big relief, like a big weight off our shoulders,” she said.

“It’s kind of caught us a bit off guard, and we are going back in the middle of winter. And I guess we will kind of arrive there and work out the details once we get there.”

Sass says they hope to be in Calgary by Christmas.