There are no refugee camps in Canada

We are expecting a group of Bhutanese refugees to arrive in Vancouver next spring.

I recently received a copy of the bulletin that is being handed out by Canadian visa officers to each family interviewed at the camp. It explains the next steps in the resettlement process and introduces the refugees to Canada, in English and Nepali. Some highlights:

  • Once you have passed all exams and your documents are ready, you will be taken to the IOM centre in Kathmandu. You will stay there for a few days to learn more about life in Canada. You will also learn about airports and airplanes to help prepare you for the trip to Canada.
  • Rumours that you will be “sold” for slave labour or forced to fight in Iraq are false.  It is also false that you will be forced to live in a refugee camp. There are no refugee camps in Canada.
  • Water in Canada is safe to drink. Every home has its own hot and cold running water. You can get water any time of the day or night. All you have to do is turn the tap on and then off when you are finished.
  • During even the coldest months, buildings and houses are well heated and comfortable. To stay warm in winter when they are outside, people wear outdoor clothes like an overcoat, boots, gloves and a hat. They also wear several layers under their outdoor clothes such as an undershirt, a shirt and a sweater.
  • People from many different cultures live in Canada. You can find most of the foods you usually eat, such as rice, green vegetables, spices, lentils and chicken, in a grocery store near you. Canada also has many other stores that carry specialty products, such as goat/lamb meat, which are not usually sold in most grocery stores.  
  • In Canada, the law lets you practise your religion freely. You will not be asked or forced to change your religion. Freedom of religion is one of Canada’s basic freedoms. There are many Buddhist and Hindu temples, and Christian churches across Canada. In many cities, you can invite Hindu Pandits home for religious ceremonies.
  • Canada is a large country and is almost 68 times bigger than Nepal. You might be resettled to any one of a number of cities. Most of these cities are in the southern parts of Canada. Attached is a map of Canada to show you where some of our cities are located.

Having my own country presented to me this way was profoundly moving. It's Canadian Thanksgiving, and I am so thankful for my country.