The guardian angels asylum seekers want a real commitment

Les anges gardiens demandeurs d’asile veulent un véritable engagement

Les anges gardiens demandeurs d’asile veulent un véritable engagement

Saturday morning, hundreds marched in the car, by bike or on foot to Montreal for a special status is granted to asylum-seekers who combat the pandemic of the COVID-19 in the accommodation centres, and long-term care as well as in other institutions where the lack of manpower is acute.


6 June 2020 13: 40 pm

Updated at 17: 31


The guardian angels asylum seekers want a real commitment

Ugo Giguère

The Canadian Press

MONTREAL — If the movement for the defence of refugees ‘ rights recognizes “a major change” in the tone of the governments about the status of asylum seekers who work as “guardian angels” in the health centres in Québec, it is a firm commitment demanded by the activists. On Saturday morning, so they were a few hundred to demonstrate in the car, by bike or on foot to Montreal.

The protesters are again given an appointment in front of the constituency office of the federal prime minister Justin Trudeau on the boulevard Crémazie est, in the north of the city. It was a second event for the group Standing up for the dignity, which had already taken a caravan of cars on the 23rd of may.

The movement demands that a special status is granted to asylum-seekers who combat the pandemic of the COVID-19 in the accommodation centres, and long-term care as well as in other institutions where the lack of manpower is acute.

Following the first event and a wave of support in the population, the premier of Quebec, François Legault has changed his approach to those he has himself called”guardian angels” taking care of the elders. The prime minister has asked that each case be evaluated in order to accommodate some of these people as immigrants and not as refugees.

To the president and founder of the group Standing up for the dignity, Wilner Cayo, this “case by case” approach is not acceptable since, according to him, one is faced with “the same logic of exclusion”.

“We demand an extraordinary measure to accommodate all the essential workers and asylum seekers, he insists. It is a question of humanity, of fairness, of justice. These people pay a heavy price, they help in this war effort.”

Mr. Cayo, a doctoral student of theology, reminds the government that these people are not a burden for québec society since they all work in positions that are essential and extremely difficult to fill. “Rather, they are a gift! We have seen how they fought, how they give and respond to present,” says the organizer of the mobilization.

The movement also denounces another gesture of the government Legault that asylum seekers do not digest, that is, to exclude from its programme of recruitment of 10,000 agents for the beneficiaries who will benefit from a paid training.

“Injustice!”, shouted in the heart of the protesters.

“Why would you want to lock these people in working conditions miserable, with a miserable salary? You may reserve seats for those people who are already inside the system and who have kept at arm’s length”, claimed Wilner Cayo in a fiery speech.

Hundreds of asylum seekers, majority of whom are women, have answered the call to help of François Legault in traveling to work in NURSING homes at the height of the crisis, and without having the genuine training of the orderlies.

Political support

Mp independent Catherine Fournier was in some way to the origin of the motion by filing a motion in the national Assembly on may 13. It called for the recognition of the contribution of asylum seekers working in NURSING homes by putting pressure on Ottawa to regularise their status. A motion rejected by the Coalition avenir Québec, despite the support of the first two oppositions, the liberal Party and Québec solidaire.

On-site throughout the event, the member for Marie-Victorin has reiterated his support by drawing a parallel with the global mobilization against systemic racism. “When you let the minority groups in poverty, in the hands of the staff recruitment agencies, many of which are malicious, it also contributes to the systemic discrimination”, she started.

The interim leader of the Parti québécois, Pascal Bérubé, was present, but without taking part in the walk. It is estimated that the one has a “duty of gratitude” towards “these people from elsewhere, who have helped us during the pandemic”. He said to support the approach of the government Legault assess the applications on a case-by-case basis, but would not be prepared to support an exception for all asylum-seekers who have occupied a vital work.

“This is not an automatic. I think the first step that has been laid is a step in the right direction because the cases are not all the same, he replied. It is necessary to have an appreciation and sensitivity towards these people and it pays to know them. This is what explains our presence here.”

In front of the crowd, Pascal Bérubé has supported another claim of the movement regarding the recruitment of orderlies. He requested that seats be reserved for asylum seekers who are already working in the field.

Spokesperson of Québec solidaire in the area of immigration, Andrés Fontecilla, has also assured the movement its support.

“We started with the total closure of the federal government, the government Legault and there it is made on a case-by-case basis, but this is not enough. It should be a regularisation programme under humanitarian grounds, and gratitude national”, has hammered the one whose family fled the dictatorship in Chile when he was a teenager.

The contribution of Ishmael

Arrival of Côte d’ivoire in August 2018, Ishmael was a teacher and musician in his home country before seeking refugee status in Canada. He has agreed to entrust themselves being identified only under his first name for fear of harm to her immigration case.

In Québec, he has given talks in schools and volunteering with various agencies before being hired in an intermediate resource where to live to older persons with mental health problems.

According to his description of its tasks, it ensures both the maintenance and the care given to the beneficiaries. He walks with them, ensures their well-being.

“I am so loved in this pavilion, but the stress that I have is that I do not have refugee status. I don’t sleep because I can be deported from one day to the next”, he says.

Upon his arrival in Québec, its aim was to contribute to the host society, to do something well, mention those who participated in the event Saturday.

With the arrival of the pandemic coronavirus, Ishmael would have been able to ask the help of emergency as millions of Canadians and stay safe at home. “I said no, I’ll go to work in this residence for not that there may be a case of COVID-19, and the disease has not returned. We managed to protect the vulnerable,” says he.

“If I left Canada today, I would have the moral satisfaction of having contributed. And I am loved, whether by students or the elderly,” shared the man who would like to see the government of Canada to recognize the sacrifice of all these people who have risked their lives so that nothing is forced.

“Just imagine how much joy it would give to the people and to their families.”

The procession was circulated in the streets bordering the federal riding of Papineau, represented by Justin Trudeau, the sound of horns and slogans of solidarity.

There is no precise data on the number of asylum seekers working in the accommodation centres or medical care, but they are estimated to be several hundreds or even some thousands of people.

Le Soleil

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