Ottawa, June 20, 2016 – The Hon. John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship; the Hon. Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage and the Minister responsible for Multiculturalism; and the Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and la Francophonie, today issued the following statement:
“As we Canadians go about our lives today, we should pause to consider those around the world whose daily struggles are infinitely more desperate.
“Today, an unprecedented 65 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18, have been forced from their homes. On average, a refugee will spend 17 years of his or her life in exile.
“It is easy to forget that those fleeing unrest and danger are no different than many of us who have no such concerns. Most refugees led ordinary lives before their ordeal began. What they now seek so desperately is a return to what they knew before: shelter, employment, the warmth of friends and family and schooling for their children.
“This is why Canada is investing abroad to support millions of refugees to provide them with the protection and assistance they need. Women and girls are especially vulnerable as they live in often dire and dangerous situations. Our government is committed to empowering them by giving them access to a quality education, reproductive health services and ensuring that they receive the protection they need to live their lives free of fear.
“In the last year, our country has also welcomed refugees by the tens of thousands. For everyone in our society who was part of the government’s Welcome Refugees initiative, the experiences of recent months have warmed hearts and re-affirmed our values as a nation.
“While we continue to welcome these individuals into our country, we now have an added responsibility: to ensure they transition successfully to life in their new home.
“Canada will continue to stand with and support millions of refugees abroad while welcoming thousands more to their new homes. This is what Canada is about: compassion, openness and diversity. These are the values we should honor on this World Refugee Day.”