Councillor takes action for refugees

One Victoria councillor is pushing for Victoria to become a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants in Canada.

One Victoria councillor is pushing for Victoria to become a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants in Canada.

For the last six months, Coun. Jeremy Loveday has been having discussions with leaders from the Victoria Immigration and Refugee Centre and the organizer of World Refugee Day about Victoria becoming Canada’s next sanctuary city, behind Toronto and Hamilton.

In a sanctuary city, municipal employees don’t enforce federal immigration laws, usually by not allowing police or municipal employees to inquire about an individual’s immigration status.

“With increased focus on immigrant and refugee issues because of the tragic nature of the Syrian refugee crisis, people in Canada and people in Victoria are talking about refugee issues in a way that I haven’t seen in a long time,” Loveday said. “I think there’s a desire to take action at a local level. Becoming a sanctuary city is one concrete thing that Victoria can do.”

The call for action comes in response to a shocking photo of the body of three-year-old Alan Kurdi washed up on a Turkish beach. The boat that his mother, father and brother — all Syrian refugees —were taking to Greece from Turkey sank. Only his father survived.

“Like most people, it was heartbreaking, especially when it hit home a lot for many Canadians when we saw the connections to Canada,” said Loveday, adding based on preliminary talks, there has been support in the community for Victoria becoming a sanctuary city.

David Lau, executive director of the Victoria Immigration and Refugee Centre, said the action would make Victoria more welcoming to newcomers and refugees.

“It’s a very strong statement of support for people who choose Victoria as the city they want to live in,” he said, adding it is not an endorsement for people who don’t get their paperwork in on time or ignore the laws of the Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Earlier this month, roughly 200 people marched from the Tourism Information Centre in the Inner Harbour to Centennial Square in support of opening Canada’s borders to Syrian refugees as well.

Loveday hopes to get discussions going again and rally support from council to declare Victoria a sanctuary city.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson is also pushing to become a sanctuary city.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after cancellations on Friday due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

(Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich police seek suspect after woman nearly robbed while getting out of vehicle

Incident occurred before 7 a.m. Feb. 17 in parking lot off Cordova Bay Road

Saskatoon resident liajah Pidskalny poses with his bike near the University of Victoria after putting on thousands of kilometres to raise awareness of the overdose and mental health crisis. (Courtesy Iliajah Pidskalny)
Saskatoon cyclist winds up mental health and overdose awareness ride in Victoria

Iliajah Pidskalny braves prairie winter conditions to get word out to communities

Gabriel Swift, 23, is one of three Victoria filmmakers chosen to receive $20,000 Telus Storyhive grants to produce Local Heroes documentaries. (Courtesy of Gabriel Swift)
Three Victoria filmmakers producing ‘local heroes’ documentaries with $20,000 grants

Telus Storyhive providing $20,000 to 40 Western Canada productions

Goldstream Food Bank president Gayle Ireland is the Goldstream Gazette’s 2021 Local Hero as Community Volunteer of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Two-week stint at Goldstream Food Bank turns into 35 years of volunteer service

Goldstream Food Bank’s Gayle Ireland is the 2021 Community Volunteer of the Year

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

Most Read