Haitian Montrealers call for special program for those immigrating from home country

Click to play video: 'Montrealers call for a special immigration program for Haitians'
Montrealers call for a special immigration program for Haitians
WATCH: With the situation in Haiti continuing to deteriorate, questions are being raised about the fate of asylum seekers in the province. Members of the community in Montreal want special humanitarian processes put in place by the Canadian government, to address these concerns. Those with loved ones still in Haiti want the government to reduce wait times for family reunification. Global's Phil Carpenter reports – Mar 27, 2024

The escalating violence in parts of Haiti is giving members of the Haitian diaspora in Montreal new reason to worry for people in their home country, almost daily.

“They’re trying to not just survive,” Haitian Montrealer Manuel Mathieu stresses. “They’re trying not to die.”

It’s for this reason the artist and his sister, Marina Mathieu, penned an open letter to both the Quebec and Canadian governments, signed by other young people of Haitian descent in Quebec, asking for more help for Haitians in Canada and in Haiti.

“From my perspective,” says Marina, “I think it’s important that the government understands the power that they have.”

One of the things on their minds is to get something done for Haitian asylum seekers in Quebec.

“Really making sure that measures for asylum seekers are put in place,” Marina stresses.

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There are thousands of Haitians in Quebec seeking refuge. Among them are hundreds who have had their application for refugee status denied, community groups say. They have not yet been deported because of an Administrative Stay of Removals that’s been in place for years, so they are still in limbo.

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Given the current situation in Haiti and the uncertainty, community workers like Frantz André, who runs the advocacy group  Comité d’Actions des Personnes Sans Statut, say the Canadian government should grant the asylum seekers in Canada, permanent residency status on humanitarian grounds.

“(It’s one way of) acknowledging the contributions of people who’ve been here for a long time, that have been respecting the laws, contributing economically, have created a family environment for their children,” he reasons.

Marina points out some people have little choice.

“It’s a matter of survival,” she argues. “Certain people cannot go back because they have nowhere to go back to.”

These advocates also want something else addressed — for the government to expedite the processing of family reunification files for people in Haiti, who have been approved to join relatives here, saying it’s a matter of life and death.

“It’s taking so much time,” says André. “Two of the families are people that were administratively accepted, they got killed by the gangs.”

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He says the deaths happened in late 2022 and early last year.

“I think there should be a program specially for Haiti in the particular context that we’re in right now,” Manuel points out, “because this is a situation that’s never been seen.”

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada was unable to comment by deadline.

Click to play video: 'Feds airlifting vulnerable Canadians out of Haiti amid security crisis: Joly'
Feds airlifting vulnerable Canadians out of Haiti amid security crisis: Joly

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