July 23, 2020 by Loren Balisky
These are the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about refugee claimants and the Kinbrace community amid the ongoing pandemic.
The Canada-USA border is closed. How is this affecting the number of people making claims for refugee protection in Canada?
The federal government closed the Canada-US border on 18 March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This created a significant barrier for those questing through the USA toward Canada for protection. Each year the majority of people who make refugee claims in Canada arrive overland via the Canada-US border. With the border closed, fewer people are making refugee claims.
Are lower numbers of refugee claimants affecting Kinbrace’s work?
No. The pandemic hyper-exposes those who are already vulnerable, meaning there’s more risk for refugee claimants. Government processing systems have been upended and are re-ordering, resulting in refugee claimants seeking information and support.
How has my support helped refugee claimants so far through the pandemic?
Within the Kinbrace community in East Vancouver, there’s a profound “family” feel, a closeness and intimacy. This may stem from the shared pandemic experience, staying put together, and receiving your critical and timely support. This expressed experience of belonging and connectedness amid forced displacement is profound. Your invisible presence makes the community safe, vibrant, and trusting in the midst of uncertainty.
The quest for permanent housing remains important among Kinbrace residents, even though it abruptly stopped mid-March with lockdown and resulting uncertainty. Three families recently moved into permanent homes, solidifying their experience of settlement and wellbeing. Their move creates vacancy in the Kinbrace transitional housing community, providing openings for those refugee claimants abiding in shelters across Metro Vancouver. It’s your steadfast solidarity amid their chaos of finding home that brings stability.
Thousands of refugee claimants in BC and across the country have been waiting for refugee hearings to resume. Your support is adapting READY Tours in collaboration with the Canadian government so that each person waiting for their refugee hearing can learn and prepare appropriately. If you’re interested in more detail, visit www.refugeeclaim.ca.
I heard Kinbrace’s Tuesday community dinners have started again. Can I come?
Regrettably, no. While your presence is valued, guests/volunteers/neighbours/former residents are currently asked to not attend Tuesday community dinners (which resumed in June) as per guidelines from the health authorities. Until further notice, community dinners are only for those living in the houses; currently, two staff members attend per week – at a distance – to help with cooking, set up, and clean-up.