Palestinian refugees face deportation from Canada

[MONTRÉAL] In 2001, Palestinians seeking refugee status in Canada began receiving responses from Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB). Some were refused while others were accepted.

The IRB was accused of being arbitrary and prejudicial against Palestinians seeking refugee status in Canada. One case that the Montréal Palestinians often referred to to back up their claim are of two brothers who are both from the Burj el-Barajneh Refugee Camp. “One brother got accepted while the other was refused even though they both lived in the same harsh conditions in the camp,” said one Plestinian refugee who requested anonymity becaue his case was still pending before his commissioner.

Questions I wanted to answer in the 16-minute film below, Mythos Canadensis (2003), attemped to reconcile the divide between official Canadian immigration policy and the practice of refusing to give refugee status in Canada to a Palestinian, already recognized as a refugee by the United Nations.

The Citizenship and Immigration Canada website writes that their department, “resettles, protects and provides a safe haven for refugees,” yet young Palestinian men, who were born refugees and who are card-carrying beneficiaries of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), are still refused refugee status in Canada and deported back to refugee camps in the West Bank and Lebanon.

Between 2002 and 2003, I followed Montréal-based Coalition Against the Deportation of Palestinian Refugees to meetings, demonstrations, occupations, concerts, presentations, everywhere I could.

The short film is my attempt to document and understand the challenges faced by Palestinian refugees seeking status in Canada from Montréal. While following the Palestinian refugees’ activities within the coalition as they mobilized to get status in Canada, I was confronted by several questions whose answers I had previously–and wrongfully–assumed: 1) are Palestinians genuine refugees? 2) Is Citizenship and Immigration canada genuinely committed to providing a safe haven to all those in genuine need of protection?; 3) Are IRB commissioners well informed and non-partisan?; 4) Are Palestinians persecuted inside refugee camps?, and 5) Has Citizenship and Immigration Canada ever deported stateless refugees and does the government department always tell the truth?

Mythos Canadensis – David Widgington – 15:44

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