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Vigil for 'murder-suicide' family denied citizenship calls for overhaul of medical inadmissibility laws

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Media Advisory

November 15, 2013

Media contact: Tings Chak, 416 276 2174, No One Is Illegal - Toronto

Vigil for 'murder-suicide' family denied citizenship calls for overhaul of medical inadmissibility laws

Toronto -- Friends and supporters of Mohamed, Shyroz and Qyzra Walji are holding a vigil outside Immigration Enforcement's offices (74 Victoria Street) condemning the decision to deny the family citizenship for 15 years which drove them to their deaths.The Walji family were awaiting their forced removal to Tanzania when they were found dead in their London, Ontario apartment in an apparent murder-suicide. Supporters are calling for a removal of medical inadmissibility grounds in the immigration system that allows for migrants to be denied status if they are not in perfect health. 

WHAT: Vigil for Walji Family, in sadness, remembrance and rage 
WHEN: Friday, November 15th at 4pm
WHERE: 74 Victoria Street (Immigration and Refugee Board and Canada Border Services offices)
WHO: Friends, and supporters of the Walji familyVISUALS: Candle light ceremony with pictures of Mohamed, Shyroz and Qyzra. Statements will be read from their families. 

The Walji family was denied refugee status and the ability to regularize their status by Immigration Canada for 15 years. Qyzra Walji, 21 years old, who had spent most of her life in the country, was a disability activist who had recently graduated from high school and had cerebral palsy. 

In February 2010, Eritrean refugee claimant Habtom Kibreab took his life in Halifax rather than face removal. In 2011, Iranian refugee Hossein Blujani took his life in Vancouver, BC rather than be deported. In 2005, the year before Harper took power, Canada accepted 35,775 refugees. In 2012, Canada accepted about 23,000, a 35.5% decrease. At the same time, permanent residents as a percentage of temporary residents, that is the number of immigrants without full status inside the country (refugee claimants, temporary workers, etc) that eventually get permanent status has gone from 36% to 23% - meaning fewer people are able to get full status in the country. 

Tings Chak, No One Is Illegal - Toronto: "Canada's unjust refugee system and medical inadmissibility laws denied the Walji family citizenship for 15 years, forcing them to choose death over deportation. This is not the first time this has happened. Families are taking their lives over getting deported, migrant workers are dying in their workplaces, refugees are deported back to their deaths. We need to wake up to this reality - Canada's immigration system is broken, and people are dying as a result of it."
Parents and siblings of Mohamed Walji: "We are in state of shock, numbness and confusion. Just like everyone else we have so many unanswered questions and are still in disbelief that this happened. They lived in a community that knew them, helped, them, cared for them, supported them, but didn't see this coming. We were hoping that after 15 years, they would receive immigration status and finally be able to settle down - instead we are dealing with this tragedy."
Nicole Wardyce, Qyzra Walji's teacher: "It was heartbreaking to see Qyzra and her family struggle with getting their status and yet living here year after year, just trying to get by. What anyone knows who was lucky to know Qyzra, was that Qyzra gave back way more to her community at her young age than most people do in their lifetime. I have no doubt that if Qyzra and her family had been granted their Canadian citizenship, they would still be here, and Qyzra would have continued being a leader and a voice for others with disabilities and her advocacy skills would have benefited and educated many people in years to come." 
CIC statistics on refugee acceptances and permanent residency: