Saturday, May 7, 2016

A Canadian Citizen but Still a "Refugee"


What it means to be a refugee has either been completely misunderstood in Canada or it has been expropriated for political reasons. Even the federal government seems to have misunderstood what it means to be a refugee. 

The 1951 Geneva Convention defined a ‘refugee’ as “a person who is outside their country of citizenship because they have well-founded grounds for fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, and is unable to obtain sanctuary from their home country or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country.”

Essentially, a refugee is someone looking for or is living in a place of refuge. However, when a ‘refugee’ finds a home and becomes a citizen of the country in which she/he had sought refuge then that person ceases to be a refugee. The country of refuge or asylum becomes his/her country of residence or citizenship. They are no longer in such of refuge: they are home! How can you be a refugee in a country in which you are a citizen? You can vote and run for an office yet you are still referred to as a ‘refugee.’  This is simply a refusal to think!

Unfortunately, this refusal to think speaks volume about the way in which North Americans perceive issues that originate from outside their borders. The level of scrutiny given to issues within North America and Europe is not extended to issues outside. Things are taken at face-value or in the way the ‘experts’ see them.

As refugees come to Canada, they acquire the status of ‘Permanent Resident’ and become like other permanent residents. The only difference in Canada between the supposed ‘refugee’ (except of refugee claimants) and other classes of immigrants, is HOW they came to Canada. But this rather becomes a historical subject rather  than a Status-in-Canada issue.

picture: Globe and Mail

I came to Canada as a refugee and I’m now a Canadian citizen so I travel with my Canadian passport. However, some Canadians still refer to me as a “South Sudanese Refugee.” To someone who takes things at face-value, this would sound like an intentional exclusionary politics. However, it’s not! People aren’t excluding me from Canadian citizenship; they are simply saying what they hear being uttered by authority without thinking seriously about it.

The only people who have a status of ‘refugee’ in Canada are refugee claimants in search of refuge in Canada. Even the recent ‘refugees’ from Syria became landed immigrants the moment they enter Canadian airports. They get the same landing paper with the UCI or Client ID numbers and later Permanent Residents (PR) cards. They were refugees before coming to Canada, however, Canada is now their ‘Permanent Home’ unless they choose to leave.

Someone might say that this doesn’t matter as this doesn’t affect these ‘refugees’ in any significant way. Of course it doesn’t, in a way. However, it says something about us as Canadians because it begs this question: How many other issues do we do in that manner? How many political issues do we do without thinking about their semantic realities? Because wording of things affects how people perceive things, it's crucial to put these things into consideration in decision-making.  And it also gives bigoted individual arsenals to continue to see these new Canadians as only here temporarily. Canada isn’t simply their place of REFUGEE; it’s their PERMANENT HOME!

When the experts who advise the Prime Minister (PM) don’t see this fallacy and the PM doesn’t realize it, then this gives me grave concerns about some things he might do in the same way.


ON CULTURAL IDENTITY & BELONGING

Dear Melbournians, the South Sudanese people to be precise. Do you think we have seen it all? Do you think we have seen that: I mean in the aftermath of yesteryears, in regard to our culture and the notions around identity and belonging? Do you think we have seen the true reaping of what we sowed years ago? Do you really think so? After all, did we really sow anything like seeds and that there’s something to be reaped? Did we really live it out well to be seen today?

I am sorry to have bothered you, my potential readers, with questions regarding our social, economic, and political location in our host society: Australia. I think we have not seen it all and as a whole: The idea that people are bound by certain values and beliefs of significance to them. This requires cooperation and role-specific obligations on the roles of every man and woman across a given people and their society.

TOLERANCE & INCLUSION


While it is possible for us to racially discriminate or judge people we know, the chances of judging people we know diminish significantly the more we know them. An easy example of the importance of understanding others is the attitude people develop when they want to harm others or when they want to deny them something valuable. Essentially, before you fight someone, you insult them. Insults are attempts at diminishing the value of people, an attempt at estranging them, as Toni Morrison argued in The Origin of Others. It is easy to discriminate against strangers or make others strangers or dehumanized in order to discriminate against them.

Transformational Leadership, Inclusive Institutions and Service Provision

Leadership, given what is happening now in South Sudan, and generally in Africa, fascinates me. And it fascinates me not in a good way but because of the sociopolitical and socioeconomic ills facing the African continent and most of the so-called 'Third World.' To me, South Sudan, now, is a classic case.

Rebellion by disaffected politico-military leaders and repression by the government of South Sudan in Juba have stunted institutional development and leadership growth. This has made service provision almost irrelevant as political survival has taken primacy and supremacy. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

‘Black’ as an Identity Oversimplification and Mockery

Black as a universalized cultural identity of the African Person (AP)* is a residual effect of slave and colonial mentality; a racial/race paradigm. It is a malady I call, conservatively speaking, stuck-in-the-past syndrome of color constraints. Black could be an on-the-street ‘social identifier’ of race figures not a meaningful phenomenon of deep cultural identification on a universal scale.