Five people died in a shooting at a mosque in Quebec City tonight. (Update: CBC now reports 6 dead, 18 wounded.) I feel utterly despondent about the state of things right now. I know I’m not alone in feeling like what has unfolded in recent days is nothing short of evil, and it’s hard not to feel crushed by the weight of it all.
I’ve been Googling “What can Canadians do about #Muslimban?” all weekend, trying to figure out what I can do to make a difference. What follows below is a brief and hastily assembled list of action items, based on information I’ve gathered from Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook over the last few days. It is by no means complete, and I would love to hear from anyone who has suggestions for things that could be added to this list.
1. Understand the ramifications of the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA). Under the STCA, refugee claimants are required to request refugee protection in the first safe country they arrive in. This means that refugees currently seeking asylum in the US can’t apply to come into Canada instead. Justin Trudeau tweeted earlier this week that Canada will welcome refugees, but we can’t actually do so under the current law.
2. Make some noise. For starters, you can sign the YouLeadNow petition calling on Trudeau to welcome those fleeing violence and deportation under Trump. Next, you can get in touch with your Member of Parliament to tell them you want Canada to stop honouring the STCA immediately. (If you’re not sure who your MP is, use this link to look them up using your postal code.) What should you tell them? Here’s a phone script I got from Tumblr user twolakes, which you could also adapt to send via email:
“Hi, my name is YOUR NAME and I’m a constituent of MP NAME. My postal code is THIS. I’m calling to see if and when MP’S NAME is advocating in Parliament for a repeal of the “Safe Third Country” agreement. Under this agreement, refugee claims are denied to persons who entered the USA prior to coming to Canada. Given that in the more than a decade since the law has been passed no other country has been given Safe Third Country status, this bill functions as an agreement on refugee claims between the USA and Canada, and the President’s recent order clearly goes counter to Canada’s long standing policies on asylum by discriminating against certain groups. The US Government’s prohibition of persons holding passports from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and Libya, from entering or transiting through the United States means that the USA is no longer a safe country for these persons and as such they should be allowed entry to Canada. I am calling to request that the Safe Third Country Agreement be repealed, or alternately, that the United States no longer be considered a safe country for refugee claimants from these countries, or that alternate measure be taken to provide asylum in Canada to persons whose freedom of mobility has been affected by this act. Once again, my name is YOUR NAME, my phone number is PHONE NUMBER, and I can be reached any time; I would appreciate being informed of status on this urgent matter and will be calling back next A TIME DURING THEIR OFFICE HOURS to follow up if you are unable to return my call by then. Thank you for your attention to this matter and have a good day.”
3. If you can, donate to organizations committed to fighting this executive order (among other things). The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was granted a stay that temporarily blocked the policy from taking effect over the weekend, but their fight is far from over. You can also donate to the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Here in Canada, No One Is Illegal is fighting against the STCA and could use your support.
4. Use the rest of your dollars to make a statement. You may have noticed that #DeleteUber is trending on Twitter. While I urge you to come to your own conclusions as this story is developing quickly, I’ll also take this opportunity to remind you that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick recently joined the Trump administration’s economic advisory board. Support businesses that reflect your values.
5. Last but not least, PLEASE stop hiding behind #MeanwhileInCanada memes. Islamophobia is thriving in Canada precisely because we’re turning a blind eye to it. Keep educating yourself, calling it out, and fighting stereotypes. We’re better than this.