Teacher teaching two students, one with an intellectual disability.The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reports that there are now over 65 million forcibly displaced people across the globe, with one person fleeing their home every three seconds. Refugees face growing racism, xenophobia and exclusion, and a global context of rising extremist political parties and movements that feed on these divisions (United Nations Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance).

While many Canadians support growing diversity, recent data suggests there is more support for increasing economic immigration to Canada than taking in refugees. We are not a society immune from xenophobia, as frequent news reports of violence make all too clear.

Today, on World Refugee Day, CACL re-affirms its solidarity with the tens of millions of people made foreigners through no choice of their own. Our members across Canada have spent the past 60+ years crafting and advancing the values of inclusion and respect for diversity out of our own experiences of exclusion. We urge the federal and provincial government to continue and grow its commitment to welcoming refugees, and to take special measures to ensure the people with intellectual disabilities are not left behind.

Currently Canada does not welcome refugees with disabilities, arguably the most vulnerable and marginalized persons in the world today – this needs to change.

Click here to learn more about World Refugee Day.