Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care petitioned rock star Bono to use meeting with Stephen Harper to speak on behalf of refugees

Canadian doctors urge Bono to push Harper on refugee health benefits


OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail


Last updated 

Canadian doctors petitioned Irish rock star Bono to use a meeting with Stephen Harper to speak on behalf of refugees in Canada whose health care has been cut by the Conservative government.

In an open letter to the U2 front man and anti-poverty activist, who met privately on Monday with the Prime Minister and opposition leaders, three co-founders of the group Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care (CDRC) say many refugees are going without necessary care as a result of the government’s three-year-old decision to remove their health benefits.

CP Video Jun. 16 2015, 8:51 AM EDT

U2 performed in concert in Montreal over the weekend, and Bono took a side trip to Ottawa to talk with Mr. Harper about international aid for maternal and child care – an issue the Prime Minister has said is close to his heart and for which the Canadian government has pledged $3.5-billion over five years.

“At the time of your meeting with Prime Minister Harper to discuss maternal and child health care in developing countries, the CDRC will be holding its fourth national day of action with events in 20 cities calling on the Prime Minister to restore health services to pregnant women and children refugees in this country,” the doctors wrote. “We respectfully encourage you to raise these issues in your meeting with Prime Minister Harper.”

Bono did not stop to talk with reporters when his closed-door talks with the politicians ended, so it is not known how he responded to the request.

In 2012, the Conservative government eliminated all medical coverage for some asylum seekers and cut the supplemental benefits – including payments for prescription drugs and vision care – of many others. Doctors said at that time the cuts left vulnerable refugees without care.

Last year, a Federal Court judge struck down the Conservative changes to the refugees’ health benefits, saying they violated the provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that forbid cruel and unusual treatment or punishment. The judge gave the government four months to reinstate the program.

Gala Bakery in Hamilton to receive refugee employment award from Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Jun 22, 2015 | Vote0   0

Gala Bakery wins immigration employment award



John Rennison,The Hamilton Spectator

Alen Dodik tosses dough for bureks at Gala Bakery.
Hamilton Spectator

Gala Bakery in Hamilton will receive a refugee employment award from Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Gala Bakery owner Jacqueline Janosevic

The east Mountain company which was nominated by Wesley Urban Ministries, has been hiring newcomers since 2002.

“They are definitely a model employer,” said Stephanie Taylor, director of neighbourhoods and newcomer services for Wesley.

“This employer is very accommodating with employees. They have hired some of our refugees and they support them quite strongly.”

She said Gala works to ensure training and supports are available to help new workers settle into their jobs.

Taylor said work stability is one of the key factors of success for refugees and other newcomers to Canada. Wesley has worked with between 40 and 50 employers over the past year to help newcomers integrate.

“Through our refugee hiring initiative, we have been able to meet and develop dedicated Gala Bakery employees. We are proud to be leaders in the Hamilton community,” said bakery owner Jacqueline Janosevic in a federal government press release.

She could not be reached for comment Monday.

The rapidly growing Gala specializes in European-style baked goods. Its burek, a stuffed pastry popular in the Balkans, the Middle East and North Africa, is sold at Costco.

In a Spectator story last fall, Janosevic said making burek is so specialized, she has to bring bakers from Macedonia, Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia because no machine can replicate the technique.

Gala’s sales have grown 450 per cent since 2002, thanks to contracts with Fortinos, Sobeys, Highland Farms, Longos, Loblaws and a range of independent retailers.

Other winners recognized for the national award are Safeway Operations, Sobeys Inc., nominated by Calgary Catholic Immigration Services, and Dexter Construction of Halifax, nominated by Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia.

More than 12,300 refugees settled in Canada last year.

Mentally ill 39-year-old Somali refugee Abdurahman Ibrahim Hassan dies in custody

Jun 19, 2015

Refugee who died in immigration custody identified as Somali with mental health issues

 Hamilton Spectator

A man who died last week under mysterious circumstances while detained by Canadian immigration authorities has been identified as a mentally ill Somali refugee who had spent three years in prison with little prospect for release.

Canada Border Services Agency had refused to name 39-year-old Abdurahman Ibrahim Hassan, but his family and immigration watchdog groups have publicly identified him.

Hassan, who was also a diabetic, died in the early hours of June 11 in hospital in Peterborough, Ont., where he had been taken under police escort for unspecified treatment.

The province’s special investigations unit, which has been probing the death because police were involved, said the man had become “agitated” and died after being restrained by police and medical personnel.

Former Vietnamese refugees live a happy life in St. John’s

Kim Le and her husband Cham arrived in N.L. as Vietnamese refugees

By Jane Adey, CBC News Posted: May 05, 2015 9:20 AM NT Last Updated: May 05, 2015 9:50 AM NT

Kim Le and her husband Cham Le own a tailor shop in downtown St. John's. They arrived in St. John's as Vietnamese refugees. Kim Le and her husband Cham Le own a tailor shop in downtown St. John’s. They arrived in St. John’s as Vietnamese refugees. (Jane Adey/CBC)

“It’s very important for the girls on their graduation day so I want to make them pretty,” said Le.

 40th anniversary of end of Vietnam war: Kim and Cham Le came to St. John’s as refugees after the war11:30

When I met with her, Kim was focusing on a tricky shoulder seam of a sparkly turquoise dress.

“Some of them are a lot of work, but you know I like challenge,” she said.

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.