Hundreds Rally at Olympic Park to Welcome Refugees in Montreal

An Undocumented Resident to Face Deportation

Many Haitian asylum seekers have been making their way to Canada hoping that they’ll have an easier time receiving refugee status. Photo Brian Lapuz
People rallied in solidarity at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal where hundreds of Haitian refugees are sleeping in cots. Photo Brian Lapuz

On hot and sunny Sunday, a couple hundred people cheered, “Welcome, Bienvenue,” and in Haitian Creole, “Oulakayou,” during a rally at the Olympic Stadium to greet the 500 or so Haitian refugees sheltered there.

Folks gathered on a hillside at around noon near a stadium service access where asylum seekers, many accompanying children, were strolling in and out. Many fled the United States for fear of being deported.

“No human can be an alien on planet Earth,” said Jean Saint-Vil speaking to the crowd on behalf of Haitians Helping Haitians. “It’s barbaric to be using an expression like alien.”

Saint-Vil also said that people welcoming migrants were true Canadians, unlike members of far-right groups. An anti-immigration rally was supposed to be held at the Olympic Stadium by the far-right, but was canceled following the planning of the rally by anti-racist activists.

“Do you realize that Canada’s next astronaut may have crossed the border?” Saint-Vil said. “Canada’s next astronaut, today, needs a diaper.”

Claire Fatima Oriol has been living, working and paying taxes in Canada since 2013, but she recently received a meeting date from the Canada Border Service Agency to discuss her deportation. Photo Brian Lapuz

Claire Fatima Oriol also spoke on Sunday. She has been in living, working and paying taxes in Canada for the last five years, but has recently been summoned by the Canada Border Service Agency to discuss her departure.

“They want to send me back [to Haiti] into the lion’s den,” Oriol said in French, while shedding tears. “I would like to use this platform to ask for your help to vigorously reject this injustice. […] We too would like to sleep peacefully.”

Oriol arrived in 2013, but was not accepted as a refugee. Since then, she’s applied to reside in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, but has been rejected twice. Oriol applied a third time this year and is still waiting for a response from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Oriol has been trying to gain residency in Canada in order to bring her husband and two children to a safer environment. Like many, Oriol fears that her life will be in danger if she were to return to Haiti.

The CBSA did not comment to The Link as to why an applicant on humanitarian and compassionate grounds would be summoned to discuss deportation.