As a lawyer, I have had the opportunity to prosecute war crimes at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. That experience taught me a great deal about the horror of Genocide, and brought home the idea that when Genocide unfolds, it is incumbent on the international community, particularly those countries in the West, to act.
I’m proud to say we are now doing just that. The Yazidi religious minority in Iraq has suffered unspeakable atrocities at the hands of Daesh, including enslavement and sexual victimization—the UN has declared this to be a Genocide, and so too has our Parliament. Importantly, for the first time in Canadian history, our Government is not simply recognizing a Genocide, we are coupling a symbolic declaration with concrete action.
Working closely with the UNHCR, we are resettling in Canada Yazidi genocide survivors. Four hundred Yazidis have been welcomed to Canada already, and 1200 will settle here by year-end. On top of these numbers, we are also facilitating private sponsorship by groups across Canada who wish to sponsor Yazidis . These are women and children who are victims of Daesh—they need our support and I’m proud that we are offering them safe haven, and giving them the supports they need to make a new start here in Canada. This is precisely the type of compassionate and welcoming refugee policy our Government has sought to implement since taking office in October 2015—In our first year we welcomed 55,000 refugees to Canada, in 2017 we are on track to accept 40,000 more. It is also precisely the type of response Canadians have come to expect—Canadians who call upon their government to be engaged globally and responsible members of the international community.
As your Member of Parliament for Parkdale-High Park and as the Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculturalism, I am committed to working with our community and hearing from you about how, together, we can continue in Canada to welcome newcomers and stand against hatred, prejudice and discrimination.
Member of Parliament for Parkdale–High Park
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Heritage (Multiculturalism)