On Saturday November 26, 2016 at Marylake Shrine in King City Ontario a very enthusiastic  and committed group of people sat down to discuss the refugee situation in Canada and the world. The workshop was organized by the Canadian Augustinian Centre for Social Justice and the Catholic Refugee Sponsors’ Council (CRSC).

The meeting was chaired by Brian Dwyer the Director of the Augustinian Centre for Social Justice and the chair of the CRSC. The special guest presenters included Fr. Emeka Obiezu, former representative of the Augustinians to the United Nations and Rev. Bob Dueweke, the present Augustinian rep to the United Nations.

Fr. Dueweke provided the group with an overview of the role and work of the Augustinians at the UN. He pointed to the constitution of the Augustinian Order declaring that there is a social commitment to “clearly identify and resolve issues such as: defense of life, human rights, the situation of migrants and the dignity of women; to protect justice and peace at the United Nations”.

Following this discussion, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) was presented by Fr. Obiezu and Fr. Dueweke. The SDG’s were promulgated by the UN in September 2015. There are 17 goals with specific targets for each goal. Examples of some of these goals are: no poverty, quality education, clean water, decent work, reduced inequalities, climate action, peace and justice and partnerships.

Please read more about the SDG’s here: SDG’s

What followed next was a discussion of the “United Nations Summit Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants” held in New York on September 19, 2016. Canada was represented by the Prime Minister, some Cabinet members and other officials. Many people from local NGO’s and civil society were also invited. The Canadian Augustinian Centre for Social Justice was invited but was unable to attend. The summit included “round tables” attended by many members of civil society, governments and businesses.

The result of this summit is “The New York Declaration”. This document was distributed to the participants for discussion. Each country participating at the summit committed to following these declarations. A summary of the declaration is available here: New York Declaration

The declaration includes the following commitments: protection of human rights of migrants and refugees, education of children, protection against violence, recognizing the positive contributions of refugees and migrants, implementing a comprehensive refugee response program and many more.

The summit agreed that there be an international conference on the adoption of a global compact for safe migration in 2018. The CRSC and the Augustinian Centre will follow this process closely.

The next speaker was Rabea Allos from the CRSC. He spoke about the Canadian “Government Assisted Refugees” Program (GAR).  He made the point that settlement of refugees in Canada is handled most efficiently and productively by private sponsors and not the GAR. The CRSC will be advocating to the Government to slowly decrease their GAR program and offer more support to private sponsorships.

At the conclusion of this informative and inspiring workshop, the participants were grateful for the new information and were motivated to help and support the Augustinian Centre and the CRSC. There will be follow-ups from the summit in New York, and from the Marylake Shrine Monastery.

You can see more about this workshop by clicking on “Activities” at the top of this page, along with some pictures.

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