Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, greets new Syrian refugees Georgina Zires, centre, 16 month-old Madeleine Jamkossian, second right, and her father Kevork Jamkossian at Pearson International airport in Toronto on Friday, December 11, 2015. Photo Credit: Nathan Denette/CP
Beginning in March 2011, the Syrian conflict has generated one of the worst refugee crisis in the post World War II era, and has shed light on the urgent need to adopt a protection based approach to the irregular migration crisis.
Canada has also opened up its doors to Syrian refugees. The Canadian system has offered not only government sponsorship of refugees but also a private sponsorship program for resettlement. Canada’s use of both government and private sponsorships as a way of resettling refugees, and highlighted that it is a ‘role model’ for resettlement that should be exported worldwide. Or should it?
We reflect on the successes and lessons learned from this experience as well as prospects and challenges of ensuring that it responds to the protection and humanitarian needs of refugees.
Janet Dench is the Executive Director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, where she has worked for over 25 years. The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) is an umbrella organization bringing together over 180 NGOs across Canada committed to the protection of refugees and the settlement of refugees and immigrants. The CCR plays a leading role in advocacy for refugee and immigrant rights.
Audrey Macklin is Director of the Centre for Criminology and Socio-legal Studies, Chair in International Human Rights Law at the University of Toronto, and a current Fellow of the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation. She teaches, researches and writes about migration and citizenship law, business and human rights, and administrative law. From 1994-96, Professor Macklin was a member of the Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board, where she adjudicated refugee claims. Professor Macklin has also acted as pro bono intervener counsel or academic legal advisor in several public interest human rights cases, including legal challenges to security certificates, withdrawal of health care for refugees, citizenship revocation, and the ban on niqabs at citizenship ceremonies.
Adnan Al Mhamied has a Master of Social Work (MSW) from McGill’s School of Social Work and is a Syrian researcher with the ‘Refugee Integration and Long-Term Health Outcomes in Canada’ study (SyRIA.lth). Adnan left Syria in August 2014 after he played a leading role in the 17th April political movement. He founded the Damascus Centre for Human Rights Studies in his hometown Dar’a and was then selected to be the first ICAN Syrian fellow at the School of Social Work. Adnan has worked with Syrian refugees in Jordan and Montréal, and with internally displaced Syrians inside Syria. He is currently preparing for his PhD exploring the topic of Syrian fatherhood and migration.
Sarwat Dalal Bashi is a Syrian International Human Rights Specialist with a wide experience in the field of civil society and a former O’Brien fellow at the faculty of law (McGill University). He worked at the International Rescue Committee in Turkey for more than two years managing programs for Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) as a protection and rule of law manager. In 2015, he became a Fellow of the United Nations Alliance of Civilization (UNAOC) and travelled to the United States, Germany, Bosnia and Belgium to do research and provide advice to UNAOC and EUNA leaders on Migration and Integration and interfaith dialog issues focusing on Middle East and North Africa (MENA) refugees and immigrants. Prior to 2014 Sarwat worked as a Research Consultant for Human Rights Watch. Sarwat holds a bachelor of law degree from the University of Aleppo, 2005; he has practiced law and legal consultancy for eight years, specializing in criminal and human rights cases. He was honored by the Syrian Bar Association as a Master Lawyer in 2008.
The event will be moderated by Professor François Crépeau, Director of CHRLP and holder of the Oppenheimer Chair in Public International Law. From 2011 to 2017, he was the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a Fellow of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, and an Advocatus Emeritus of the Quebec Bar Association.