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Toronto City Council re-affirms Toronto as a Sanctuary City

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DH Toronto Staff Feb 06, 2017 5:42 am 287

The City of Toronto has re-affirmed it is a Sanctuary City.

In last week’s meeting, Council voted to have Toronto maintain it is a Sanctuary City where all residents have full rights to access municipal services without fear regardless of their documentation status.

In the motion, Council also urged the Federal government to continue an immigration and refugee police based on the values of inclusion, acceptance, and non-discrimination.

The City affirmed that refugees are welcome in our communities, and stands united with cities around the world against islamophobia, xenophobia and racism.

Mayor John Tory issued a statement to show his support for an Inclusive Sanctuary City.

“Over the past week, we have watched as the United States government has moved forward with executive orders on immigration targeting people from Muslim-majority countries,” wrote Tory. “We have also reacted in horror as six Canadians were killed in a terrorist attack on the Centre Culturel Islamique in Quebec City on Sunday.”

“And so we are here today to denounce all acts of Islamaphobia, of discrimination, of fear and hatred,” he wrote. “And we are here to recommit our city as a place of inclusion and acceptance where people are welcomed and valued, and where their fundamental rights and humanity are respected and enshrined.”

Read Mayor Tory’s full statement below:

Good afternoon.

I’m honoured to be joined by my council colleagues today as we speak to something that is very important to who we are as a city.
There are times in history when it is necessary to speak up – clearly and loudly – for what is right.
As a diverse city, my colleagues and I represent citizens of all backgrounds, of all faiths, who have arrived here from nations around the world.
We have a responsibility to keep them safe, to embrace them, to defend them and to protect their interests and their rights, as Canadians and as Torontonians.
Over the past week, we have watched as the United States government has moved forward with executive orders on immigration targeting people from Muslim-majority countries.
We have also reacted in horror as six Canadians were killed in a terrorist attack on the Centre Culturel Islamique in Quebec City on Sunday.
And so we are here today to denounce all acts of Islamaphobia, of discrimination, of fear and hatred.
And we are here to recommit our city as a place of inclusion and acceptance where people are welcomed and valued, and where their fundamental rights and humanity are respected and enshrined.
As I said in a statement over the weekend, we understand that, as Canadians, we are almost all immigrants – and that no one should be excluded, mistreated or disrespected on the basis of their ethnicity or nationality.
Although there is still work to be done, Toronto has a long history of speaking out against discrimination in all forms.
And we have a moral obligation to speak out now.
This afternoon, I will put forward a motion together with Councillors Cressy and Mihevic reaffirming in these turbulent times our commitment to “Toronto for all – United as an Inclusive Sanctuary City.”
I am proud that our residents have opened their arms to Syrian refugees, and our city has supported a newcomer strategy and its Toronto for all campaign – which aims to combat discrimination in all its forms, from Islamophobia to anti-black racism to transphobia.
Toronto has also affirmed itself as a Sanctuary City, with a formal policy allowing all residents of Toronto to access City services without fear arising from a lack of documentation, so that everyone can be kept healthy and safe.
Now is the moment for us to reaffirm that commitment and to send a clear message that Toronto rejects all division, intolerance and hate, and is here to support all of our residents.
I want to thank Councillor Cressy and Councillor Mihevic for their hard work on establishing Toronto as a Sanctuary City and for their leadership, collaboration and outreach to the community as our newcomer advocates, along with Councillor Jim Karygiannis.
No one should be made to feel afraid because of who they are or where they come from.

And to those who see immigration or new Canadians as something to fear I say this to you:

The people we welcome in Toronto as immigrants and refugees help build our city and our country.
They are children and parents, our neighbours and co-workers.
They have often faced real danger and persecution in the countries they have fled.
In my experience, this gives them a unique understanding of the blessings that come with residence here.
They contribute to our economy, and are leaders in our communities, in many different fields.
We all care about the safety and security of our nation, but Canada’s immigration and refugee policies have served us very well and in no way threaten that safety or security.
And so if you are afraid of what immigration means, don’t point fingers – ask questions.
Learn about our fellow citizens.
We have benefitted from and will continue to benefit from ideas and approaches and experiences newcomers have brought to Toronto and to Canada.
Understand their stories as you understand your own.
Understand them because they are our own.
This is how our city will resist fear and live up to our motto, diversity our strength, and focus on inclusion, not division.

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DH Toronto Staff

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