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Canadian Rainbow Coalition for Refuge applauds seed funding for Canadian Network on LGBTQ refugee protection

Edmonton – The Canadian Rainbow Coalition for Refuge are commending the federal government’s funding commitment from the Women and Gender Equity fund (WAGE). 

“Thank you, Minister Maryam Monsef and LGBTQ2 special advisor Randy Boissonnault. This funding demonstrates the governments’ commitment to working with civil society to address the serious gaps in access, equity and full participation LGBTQ refugees continue to face in Canadian cities. The groups offering support for LGBTQ refugees are often grassroots and unfunded—particularly in smaller cities. This project will mobilize resource sharing and development that will have an impact across Canada.”  says Rainbow Refugee Board Chair and Coalition Co-Chair Sharalyn Jordan.

Refugees fleeing persecution related to Sexual Orientation Gender Identity or Expression (SOGIE) face distinct barriers and risks.  In their countries of origin, they have survived threats and violence that often starts within their own families. During migration, they face heightened risk of violence in countries of first asylum. A unanimous all-party Commons Committee recommendation following public hearings that produced the 2017 report “LGBTQ+ at risk abroad: Canada’s Call to Action.”  This report called on Canada to take a leadership role in protecting and settling people fleeing sexual and gender based persecution. Although Canadian cities offer greater safety and protection of legal rights, LGBTQ refugees continue to face serious barriers accessing safe housing, services, jobs and community spaces.

The Rainbow Coalition for Refuge collaborates to enhance Canada’s commitment LGBTQ refugee protection and settlement. Collectively they have organized sponsorships in over 25 communities across Canada through the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Program, a blended-sponsorship agreement with the Federal Government.

“We encourage local LGBTQ2 communities to support and welcome LGBTQ refugee newcomers. In turn, members with refugee experience become involved as peer navigators, advocates and community leaders.” explains Chris Morrissey, Rainbow Refugee founder.

“This announcement is a great of example of how the federal government can work with civil society to protect LGBTQ+ refugees in Canada. It is one of several recommendations our coalition has made. There is more work to be done, but this is a significant milestone,” says Kimahli Powell of Rainbow Railroad and Coalition Co-Chair.

Notes

The Rainbow Coalition for Refuge is a network of LGBTQ Civil Society organizations focused on enhancing LGBTQ refugee protection and settlement with lead organizations in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax. Rainbow Refugee and Rainbow Railroad serve as co-chairs of the coalition. Rainbow Refugee will be the administrator of the fund.

“I always dreamed about a roundtable where service providers across Canada bring their own knowledge and experiences, share their best practices with regard to effective advocacy for our LGBTQ+ Newcomers community. So we learn from each other and promote justice for a very vulnerable community such as ours.”

Basel Abou Hamra, Rainbow Refuge Program/ Leader LGBTQ Newcomers Group

Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers/ Pride Centre of Edmonton

“Given how many countries persecute lesbian gay trans and bi people, Canada is in a unique position to be able to make a difference on the world stage. Unfortunately, the need is great, and we wish Canada could do more. Increased funding can facilitate our ability to welcome and demonstrate Canadian values regarding the basic humanity of all people.”

Lisa Hébert, Coordinator, Capital Rainbow Refuge in Ottawa

“This is such an important step forward to support LGBTQ+ refugees to restart their lives in Canada in safer communities. Canada only benefits when we support people to become contributing members of our community, so helping LGBTQ+ refugees take steps in this direction is amazing news for everyone.”

Kelly Ernst, President & Founder, End of the Rainbow Foundation

“We continue to be encouraged and inspired by the Canadian government’s commitment to feminist values and the advancement of human rights for vulnerable communities, particularly LGBTQ+ refugees. The plight for women’s rights is in close relationship with the plight for refugees’ equity and inclusion. Access to resources and funding is a major step in dismantling access barriers and ensuring that organizations doing the work on the ground are sustainable in the long term.” 

Aleks Dughman-Manzur of the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto.         

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