Written by: Karina Juma, Eliza Meeson, and Abarna Selvarajah
Beginning in the 1970s, the Sri Lankan state was able to neutralise the potential political cost of producing refuge-seekers by labeling Tamil political activity as terrorism, accordingly equating the Tamil people as terrorists. As demonstrated by our previous research, the Sri Lankan state has used law to build a Sinhala-exclusive national identity since independence. This identity, firmly enshrined in the law, has provided the state with a justification to invoke security-based regulations as a means to militarize against the Tamil people and equate their resistance to acts of terrorism. This national security narrative was tacitly supported by the international community in the 1980s through the 1990s and the early 2000s, reaffirming Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and territorial integrity rather than addressing the issue of Tamil displacement by intervening to prevent further discrimination against the persecuted Tamil minority. Terrorism rhetoric impacted Tamil refuge-seekers’ resettlement options and the ways in which they were received in host countries, including Canada. By designating the Tamil people as a threat to sovereignty, the Sri Lankan state was effectively able to limit both international willingness to intervene in Sri Lanka and to open up their own social contracts to Tamil refuge-seekers.
Costs to the Government
The Canadian government faced significant political costs regarding the reception and resettlement of Tamil refugees. Sri Lankan Tamils who settled in Canada prior to the 1983 Black July riots were predominantly affluent or from middle-class backgrounds (Velamati, 277). After 1983, Tamil migrants to Canada also comprised members of the non-professional working class (Velamati, 277). Following the arrival of 155 Tamil refugees off the coast of Newfoundland in August 1986, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney remarked, “Canada was built by immigration and refugees, and those who arrive in lifeboats will not be turned away” (Finlayson, 8). In addition to receiving minister’s permits [see blog post #1], the Tamil refugees were granted access to basic medical and welfare benefits as they awaited permanent residency. A public dialogue surrounding Canada’s immigration policies ensued, with opposition parties believing that the treatment of Tamil refugees would encourage other refugee claimants and asylum seekers to seek illegal channels into the country. On February 20, 1987, the federal government announced that it was cancelling its policy of granting automatic one-year residence permits to asylum applicants from a list of 17 countries, including Sri Lanka (Jones, 19). This tightening of refugee and asylum policy was in anticipation of a new refugee determination system, which was implemented in January 1989 and shifted the government’s focus in the interim from the resettlement of refugees from abroad to protection [in-country asylum] cases (Labman, 60).
Over time, the Canadian government increasingly began pitting resettlement against in-country asylum, depicting them as contradictory processes rather than as complementary. For this reason, Tamil refugees who arrived on the MV Ocean Lady in October 2009 and the MV Sun Sea in August 2010 were met with accusations of “queue-jumping” and of being “bogus refugees” even though resettlement is voluntary and it is in-country asylum claims that fulfill Canada’s international legal obligations (Labman, 60). For instance, Bill C-49, the Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada’s Immigration System Act, was introduced in response to the MV Sun Sea incident. Bill-C-49 allowed the Minister of Public Safety to designate the arrival of a group of migrants as “irregular”, thereby subjecting all foreign nationals in the group to mandatory detention for at least one year and other penalties including a 5-year ban on applying for permanent resident status even if determined to be legitimate refugees (Labman, 58). It is important to note that the Department of Public Safety lobbied the government to denounce the LTTE as a terrorist organization in 2006 and that Public Safety once again linked Tamil peoples with unlawful behaviour through Bill C-49.
In terms of economic costs, the captain of the ship that transported the 155 Tamil refugees in August 1986 was fined $46,000 by Canadian immigration authorities (Associated Press, 1986). It is believed that the passengers paid the captain a sum of up to $3,350/each (Janigan, 1986). Information pertaining to the cost of detaining the MV Ocean Lady passengers is limited; however, of the 76 refugee claimants, 8 were deemed inadmissible, 36 refugee claims were accepted, and 21 claims were rejected (Quan, 2017). According to Canada Border Services Agency representatives, the Canadian government spent $22 million on the arrival, processing, and detention of the 492 Tamil refugees on board the MV Sun Sea. $18 million alone was spent on detention at a cost of $190/person per day – this excluded the cost of detention reviews at the Immigration and Refugee Board, judicial reviews at the Federal Court, and legal aid for the detainees (Canadian Council for Refugees, 2015). MV Sun Sea passengers allegedly paid up to $50,000/each for the voyage. Of the 492 refugee claimants, 22 were inadmissible, 230 refugee claims were accepted, and 107 were rejected (Quan, 2017). In 2010, welfare assistance for refugees eligible under Ontario Works were as follows (Mahoney, 2010):
- Single person with no children: $585/month
- Single person with one child 17 or under: $913/month
- Single person with two children 17 or under: $961/month
- Single person with two dependent adults: $1,303/month
- Couple with no children: $1,010/month
- Couple with one child 17 or under: $1,058/month
- Couple with two children under 17: $1,112/month
Costs to the Refugees Themselves
In addition to the costs borne by the government, it is necessary to examine the social and psychological costs shouldered by Tamil refugees upon arriving in Canada. From 1999 to 2003, a group of community leaders and researchers at the University of Toronto conducted a study on the Tamil refugee population entitled “Community in Distress: Mental Health Needs and Help-seeking in the Tamil Community in Toronto” (Beiser et al., 2003). According to the study, Tamils with teaching or nursing backgrounds – mostly women – experienced an unemployment rate of 70%, showcasing the failure of the Canadian state to take advantage of the refugees’ skills. For example, children on the MV Sun Sea were denied education for over one month. When the refugees voiced their concerns, Tamil teachers were pushed aside and state-approved instructors were brought in to teach the children instead. Gillian Philipupillai describes “the education of detained Tamil children from the MV Sun Sea [and] the functioning of educational curriculum about the MV Sun Sea as a site for Canadian nation building” and demands that “we examine the role of the teacher as agent and spokesperson for the settler [and] the classroom as a space of containment, surveillance and scrutiny” (20). Furthermore, ⅓ of “Community in Distress” participants reported experiencing traumatic events prior to their departure from Sri Lanka including witnessing combat, physical assault, and rape. 12% of the participants suffered from PTSD, compared with a general population prevalence rate of 1% in Canada. Amongst the biggest barriers to access to healthcare experienced by the Tamil refugees were language and a mistrust of the healthcare system stemming from the limited understanding and capacity of healthcare providers to address mental health issues faced by refugee groups (Beiser et al., 242-243).
Benefits to the Host Country
The Canadian-Tamil diaspora built social, economic and political foundations unique to their lived experiences as both a refugee and Tamil person. Achievements in the Tamil diaspora looked like cultural events, stores, thriving businesses and professional occupations, which all positively impacted Canada as a host state. Nonetheless, political praise and rhetoric surrounding the contributions of the Tamil community historically have been limited to the economic benefit they provide Canadians by creating jobs and bringing in income. This negates their social and cultural value as survivors of a civil war and active, contributing, citizens in Canada’s state-building process. It also presupposes a transactional value to their citizenship, placing an undeserving burden on former Tamil refugees to prove that they are grateful for being granted asylum. Since the inception of their struggle, Tamils all across host nations fought against this narrative to reclaim their position as advocates for justice and accountability in Sri Lanka. By doing so, Tamils asserted their right to be influential political agents and drivers of social change in their respective host states, rather than just drivers of economic progress. An important example of this is the City of Toronto’s proclamation of Tamil Genocide Rememberance Day, held on May 18 20009. Through the advocacy efforts of multiple Tamil rights organizations, including People for Equality and Relief Lanka (PEARL), this recognition affirmed the lives lost, atrocities committed, and need for accountability measures to be taken.
Refugee perspectives during the civil war was marked with a particular sense of urgency. Tamil refugees fortunate to leave Sri Lanka recognized that they had a commitment to raise awareness on the abuse taking place against remaining Tamil minorities of the island. They did so by organizing and taking to the streets, united in a just cause of protecting the lives of citizens being senselessly murdered by the Sri Lankan state. Communities came out in the thousands to demonstrate and protest, even if their political actions placed them at the risk of incarceration and/or deportation. Over time, these organizing efforts manifested into the creation of multiple refugee-led domestic and international organizations aimed at lobbying governments to take action against the Sri Lankan state. This section will look at some of the many ways in which refugees told their stories of displacement and advocated for international action to be taken on part of Western and European host governments. While researching for this section, we realized that Tamil refugees employed several methods of representation to resist state violence (ex. lobbying efforts, organizations, art forms such as novels, artwork, and singing/dancing). We wanted to highlight some of the lived experiences of refugees and how they chose to tell their stories. This is by no means an exhaustive list.
Book: The Boat People by Sharon Bala
Bala’s novel was inspired by the arrival of the MV Sun Sea and Ocean Lady off the coast of British Columbia in 2010 and her desire to examine Canada’s “split personality” around refuge-seekers – simultaneously celebratory of its generosity towards those it lets in and deeply suspicious of those requesting entrance. It shifts between northern Sri Lanka and the Canadian refugee system following a man and his young son. A CBC interview with the author can be found here, in which she talks about the novel but also her process and take-aways from her research into the Canadian immigration system – one of which is “don’t come by boat.” Bala was also interviewed by Shanelle Kandiah of Tamil Culture, where she talks about her path towards writing and her process of developing characters when there was no public record about the actual people on the boats.
Book: Losing Santhia
This book tells the story of Santhia, a former rank member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who fled Sri Lanka to seek refuge for herself and her son in Australia. She would not make it to her destination, as she died at 45 in a hospital in Jakarta, Indonesia. The book was sponsored by the Tamil Refugee council and written by journalist Ben Hillier who travels back to Indonesia and Sri Lanka to piece together her life. It places Santhia in the context of the Tamil liberation struggle, looking at the circumstances that would inspire someone to take up arms and the reasons behind her drastic decision to flee and save her son’s life.
Organization: People for Equality and Relief Lanka (PEARL)
PEARL is a non-profit organization founded in 2005 and run by human rights activists who are concerned about the past and present treatment of Tamils by the Sri Lankan state and host countries. It is also the first of many Tamil organizations founded and led by a Tamil woman, Tasha Manoranjan. Since its inception, PEARL has served as a resource for policymakers, activists, journalists, civil society, and victim-survivors, both in the North-East and in the rest of the world. PEARL has organized international campaigns to bring justice to the Families of the Disappeared in Sri Lanka, issued publications on Sri Lanka’s failing transitional justice program and human rights abuses, and held several bilateral and multilateral meeting with International Representatives, Canadian Diplomats and Public Servants on issues surrounding the Tamil Struggle.
Organization: Tamil Info Centre (TIC)
Tamil Information Centre (TIC) is an independent organization, primarily committed to the promotion of human rights of the Tamil-speaking people of Sri Lanka. TIC is an apolitical organization founded by Varadakumar Vairamuttu, a former Tamil Refugee, and seeks solutions to address legacies of human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, provided that any settlement is based on justice, equality and respect for fundamental human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) serves as its basic frame of reference and TIC seeks to promote the observance of the fundamental principles enshrined in the UDHR and other international human rights instruments. Their work primarily concerns domestic and international engagement to raise awareness on the plight of the Tamil peoples in Sri Lanka, through organizing art exhibits on the history of Tamils in Sri Lanka, writing publications on war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan
Organization: Canadian Tamil Medical Association (CTMA)
Along with funding several healthcare initiatives and educational events in the GTA, the volunteer-based Canadian Tamil Medical Association funded several medical trips to Sri Lanka in the early 2000s. A volunteer medical team was sent in 2002, 2003, and early 2004, as well as in 2005 in the wake of the December 2004 tsunami. These missions were organized following requests from humanitarian groups in Northeastern Sri Lanka. The timing of the 2002-2004 missions correspond with the cease-fires between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan state, and the medical missions were able to both go into rebel-controlled areas and meet with state representatives. Disaster relief efforts in Eastern Sri Lanka post-tsunami all took place in 2005. In 2006, the LTTE and many Tamil organisations within Canada were put on the list of terrorist organisations, effectively limiting the forms of aid that diaspora groups could organise. The CTMA organised fundraisers during the final stages of the conflict in 2008, but were unable to send missions.
Organization: Senior Tamils’ Centre of Ontario
A Toronto-based centre founded in 1987, the STC runs events, activities and projects for Tamil seniors in the GTA. These initiatives work to engage seniors in the larger community, and many focus on skill-building and intergenerational education.
Organization: Tamil Studies Symposium and the archive of Tamil Resources at York University, started by Nedra Rodrigo
This archive is built upon donations from refugees who brought over material from Sri Lanka, much of which is no longer available in Sri Lanka. The archive aims to make these sources more accessible to community members and researchers.
Organization: Canadian Tamil Youth Alliance
The CTYA is the largest nationwide organisation of youth associations and groups with Tamail heritage, culture and language backgrounds. Their vision is to “empower Canadian Tamil youth to become outstanding leaders and citizens in our society.”
Organizatoin: Abuse Never Becomes Us அன்பு
A.N.B.U. is a Toronto-based community organisation for survivors of childhood sexual abuse within the Tamil community. A.N.B.U. is run by Tamil speaking women who are themselves survivors. Situating the Tamil community’s specific historical and present trauma within the global issue of childhood sexual abuse, A.N.B.U. works to identify and implement community-specific healing methods and “shift how our community addresses childhood sexual abuse.” They put emphasis on helping clients find both personal and political agency, seeing both as necessary to healing. On their website, they highlight voices of survivors and provide a forum for their stories (trigger warning). They provide resources in both English and Tamil.
Associated Press. “Captain Suspected in Tamil Refugee Ship Case Billed $46,000”. https://apnews.com/c0287d147c6771d0ebd9acacfe18dae9
Beiser, Morton, Laura Simich and Nalini Pandalangat. “Community in Distress: Mental Health Needs and Help-seeking in the Tamil Community in Toronto”, International Migration, vol. 41, no. 5, 2003, pp. 233-245. https://onlinelibrary-wiley-com.proxy.bib.uottawa.ca/doi/epdf/10.1111/j.0020-7985.2003.00268.x
Canadian Council for Refugees. “Sun Sea: Five years later”. https://ccrweb.ca/sites/ccrweb.ca/files/sun-sea-five-years-later.pdf
Finlayson, Ann. “Preparations for a new life”, Macleans’, vol. 99, no. 35, 1986, , pp. 8-9. https://search-proquest-com.proxy.bib.uottawa.ca/docview/218448501?accountid=14701
Janigan, Mary. “Desperate Voyage”, Maclean’s, vol. 99, no. 34, 1986, pp. 8-12. https://archive.macleans.ca/article/1986/8/25/desperate-voyage#!&pid=12
Jones, Allen. “Sri Lankan Tamils’ Search for Asylum: An Update”, U.S. Committee for Refugees, 1987, pp. 1-24. https://refugees.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Sri-Lankan-Tamils-Search-for-Asylum_March-1987_Allen-K-Jones.pdf
Labman, Shauna. “Queue the Rhetoric: Refugees, Resettlement and Reform”, University of New Brunswick Law Journal, vol. 62, 2011, pp. 55-63. https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A263439973/AONE?u=otta77973&sid=AONE&xid=37ed5671
Mahoney, Jill. (2010). “Kenney urges provinces to review ‘generous’ welfare for refugees”. The Globe and Mail. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/kenney-urges-provinces-to-review-generous-welfare-for-refugees/article4313052/
Philipupillai, Gillian. “The Marking of Tamil Youth as Terrorists and the Making of Canada as a White Settler Society”, Master’s Thesis, University of Toronto, 2013. https://tspace.library.utoronto.ca/bitstream/1807/42640/1/Philipupillai_Gillian_G_MA_thesis.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0Nj2PLJFA6bHth4Q6WO0BTkqeVD83LlpbSXKDUYX2Gegrs8LBgn6OSnG0
Public Safety Canada. “Listed Terrorist Entities: Currently listed entities”. https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/ntnl-scrt/cntr-trrrsm/lstd-ntts/crrnt-lstd-ntts-en.aspx#46
Quan, Douglas. (2017). “Years after two ships brought 568 migrants to Canada, seven acquittals and one conviction”. National Post. https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/years-after-two-ships-brought-568-migrants-to-canada-seven-acquittals-and-one-conviction
Velamati, Manohari. “Sri Lankan Tamil Migration and Settlement: Time for Reconsideration”, India Quarterly, vol. 65, no. 3, 2009, pp. 271-294. http://www.jstor.org/stable/45072946
12 thoughts on “எங்கள் உரிமை (this is our right): the histories of resilience and strength from Tamil refugees.”
In my research I came across private sponsorship from agencies and various citizen groups within Canada for refugees, did you come across any of these organizations during your research for refugees from Sri Lanka? if so what was the public response to these refugees, was it the same ‘queue jumper’ attitude ?
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I don’t have a question to ask, but I found it very interesting to read your argument and hear about the role the Sri Lankan state has played in limiting international willingness to accept Tamil refugees through the designation of Tamil political activity as terrorism. I also really liked how your discussion of the benefits to the host country went beyond economic benefits, but also discussed the social and cultural value that refugees bring.
Thank you as well for mentioning the books and sharing the link to the interview with Sharon Bala. In the article, Bala writes, “I’m also interested in willful amnesia, how the country and its citizens are so quick to forget the wrongs of the past and then continue to perpetuate those wrongs in the present.” I think that quote speaks well to the importance of looking at refuge-seeking from an historical perspective, as well as making space for the voices of refugees to be heard in order to overcome the amnesia that erases their stories.
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Very strong introduction. It leads up to the last sentence, which draws on Mann’s “social contract” arguments to demonstrate how effectively the Sri Lankan state wielded its portrayal of Tamil as terrorists in order to exclude them at home, while also complicating their acceptance in hosting states.
I have two questions:
First, you mention the Canadian government pitting resettlement against in-country asylum, and resettlement as voluntary vs. in-country asylum fulfilling Canada’s legal obligations. Can you say more about these distinctions, the tensions between them, and the effects/repercussions of these tensions of refuge seekers?
You refer to the transactional value of citizenship: this is an interesting characterization and I was wondering if you could flesh it out.
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I will be answering your first question regarding resettlement versus in-country asylum.
I will begin by using the distinctions provided by Shauna Labman in “Queue the Rhetoric: Refugees, Resettlement and Reform” and then I will propose my own take on these distinctions. Labman argues that resettlement and in-country asylum are complementary processes; however, they are often portrayed as contradictory processes with resettlement viewed as the “legal” channel through which refugees immigrate to Canada and asylum as the “illegal” channel through which refugees enter the country. She explains that resettlement is not legislated in Canada, but stems instead from a humanitarian tradition, or the government’s willingness, to accept refugees. Labman writes, “[t]he government is free to increase or decrease resettlement numbers and is not legally bound to operate a resettlement program at all”, but chooses to do so in order to to assist with international refugee responsibility-sharing (61). On the other hand, Labman highlights that in-country asylum is entangled with the principle of non-refoulement. Labman writes, “There is an implicit recognition in signing the 1951 Convention that refugees may come to Canada. That these refugees might need to enter a country illegally in order to make their refugee claim was predicted, addressed and accepted by the 1951 Convention and its signatories, including Canada” (59). According to Labman, Canada’s refugee determination system was created for the purpose of fulfilling Canada’s legal obligations under the 1951 Convention, and hence, is the site of refugee law. I think that her argument is summarized well in the following quotation: “[T]he truth is that there is no refugee queue and only one door permitting access to asylum and resettlement. The government is legally obliged to keep that door open for asylum seekers and chooses to resettle additional refugees” (63).
In terms of my own response, I think that national security is at the core of the contention between resettlement and in-country asylum. The selection process involved with refugee resettlement allows the Canadian state to know exactly who will be entering its borders and under what circumstances. Under this context, the state is opening its social contract to an individual or to individuals that it has pre-screened and believes fit to be part of this social contract. When it comes to in-country asylum, this pre-screening component is not performed, leaving the state with little to no control over who can put forward an asylum claim. I believe that this lack of control on the part of the government generates a wider spread panic and uncertainty surrounding in-country asylum claimants, such as the passengers of the MV Ocean Lady and the MV Sun Sea. This panic in turn fuels anti-refugee and anti-asylum rhetoric by politicians and members of the public alike, creating the wrongful impression that asylum seekers are “queue jumpers” when there is in fact no such thing as a resettlement “queue”, as Labman points out. Canada resettles comparatively few refugees out of the millions of refugees in need of protection, which perhaps makes resettlement appear safer since those who are allowed into the country are thoroughly assessed beforehand, whereas the screening process takes place after-the-fact for asylum claimants, and consequently, asylum claimants are seen as threats precisely because the state lacks prior knowledge about them.
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Much shorter answer for the second question about the transactional value of citizenship!
We called it transactional because often times refuge-seekers who are granted citizenship are made to feel like they owe something to that country. It can take the form of having to perform unending gratitude or loyalty, or it can be having to prove their economic worth – sort of a “we’ll give you citizenship if you prove that you contribute to our economy.” What is expected of new citizens goes far beyond what is expected of those with birthright citizenship.
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Very well argued and thought provoking response. Thank you.
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This is an addition to the question on “transactional citizenship” – employment opportunities offered to Canadian Tamils following their arrival were often relegated to domestic housework, factory work and low-level positions in restaurants. Their documentation and credentials from their home country were often not approved by Canadian employment agencies, resulting in many qualified Tamil civilians to spend entire days working and their night taking classes to “catch up to Canadian standards” (in quotations because the arbitrary measure of western standards to similar professions such as doctors and engineers were put in place to benefit those born in these countries and not those who arrive). These nearly 18+ hour work days resulted in a type of work ethic that is unmatched – but is also very exhausting and taxing on the body. Tamils in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and all across Canada built businesses with little to no help, and helped create thousands of jobs for the Canadian economy. The transactional element factors in when politicians and representatives step in to claim responsibility for the success of Tamil business owners and attribute it to the “good-natured Canadian state” for offering them citizenship. The reality is completely different as Tamil Canadians found it necessary to invest their time and energy into self-owned business since there was little opportunity to grow in an existing institution, due to systemic racism and discrimination. Placing the burden of gratefulness on the back of former refugees, after they have had to fight the entire time they lived in the host state is at the core of ‘transactional citizenship’ – believing that their hard-earned success somehow was a gift to them because of their citizenship.
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While I don’t have a question, I found your demonstration of the political leveraging committed by the Sri Lankan government to be quite clear and adds to the overall story of the Tamil refugees, creating a more well-rounded understanding of what Tamil refugees have had to endure even after the civil conflict. However, I think it would be interesting to expand on the social repercussions that came with the narrative created by the Canadian government of pitting resettlement against in-country asylum
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I briefly touch on this point in my response to Professor Terretta’s question about resettlement versus in-country asylum above; however, the largest social repercussion of this dichotomy on the Tamil refugees is the impression that the refugees who arrived in Canada by means of resettlement were ‘legitimate’ refugees, while those who arrived by boat were ‘illegitimate’ or ‘bogus’ refugees. For example, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney suggested that the arrival of the MV Ocean Lady put Canada at risk of developing “a two-tier immigration system – one tier for legal, law-abiding immigrants who patiently wait to come to the country, and a second tier who seek to come through the back door” (Labman, 57). This “queue-jumper” stereotype was widely used by Conservative politicians and media outlets in relation to the MV Ocean Lady passengers and later for the MV Sun Sea passengers, which painted Tamil asylum seekers as a whole with illegality even though Canada’s international legal obligations clearly require the country not to turn these individuals away.
I really enjoyed that your blog post covered the discourse around refugees as economic migrants in a way that highlights the contradictions between the reality of sacrifices (including financial debt) that refugees incur when seeking asylum in a third country, and public dialogue surrounding their presence as a financial burden on the state budget. Debt seems to be almost instrumental in the resettlement process of refugees, especially as the terms of it aren’t clearly defined – rather, refugees are perceived as morally indebted to the state where they are trying to resettle in, with financial debt being an economic manifestation of xenophobic belief held by the public in Canada and the U.S.
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This was a very well researched post! My question is for the welfare assistance break downs for refugees, were these amounts of money specific to were refugees were located such as Toronto or was it the same amount in every case. To add to this question, have any diaspora organizations fought for better welfare agreements?
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To answer your question, Refugees’ location within the province did not matter. From our understanding, the rates were standardized across Ontario in the same manner that they were standardized in other provinces. Social assistance to refugees falls under provincial jurisdiction, and thus, the amounts vary from province to province.
Diaspora organizations have advocated for better welfare agreements through their political representatives.
Organizations that do not exist today worked out of Scarborough and held weekly meetings with Tamil families to discuss how to raise their concerns with welfare costs to politicians. However, it is also important to note that many former refugees were afraid of applying for welfare as this would limit their ability to sponsor family members from Sri Lanka to Canada in the future.