The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Refugee Resettlement in Canada Information Bulletin No. 1

The following information bulletin was handed out in the refugee camps in May 2008 to more than 15,000 Bhutanese refugees. The goal was to provide information about the Canadian resettlement process and to answer some initial questions about life in Canada.

What you need to know about Canada

  • Resettlement is the word used by Canada to describe the process of bringing you to Canada to live there permanently.
  • Refugees can apply to resettle to Canada, whether they are healthy or sick, young or old.
  • When you come to Canada to live, you will live in cities with other Canadians. You will not live in camps.
  • Refugees receive assistance to resettle in Canada.
  • Refugees who come to Canada are no longer refugees, but permanent residents, and can eventually become citizens.
  • Canada is working with other countries to support repatriation of some refugees who wish to go back to Bhutan.
  • You should contact the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to apply for resettlement. It doesn’t cost any money to submit an application.

Canada to offer resettlement to refugees from Bhutan in Nepal

  • Up to 5,000 Bhutanese refugees will be able to come to Canada. If you want to come to Canada, you should contact the UNHCR.
  • In October 2008, Canadian officers will begin interviewing refugees who want to come to Canada. The first group of refugees will begin to arrive in Canada in early 2009.
  • Canada expects to bring all 5,000 refugees to Canada over the next four years.
  • After you have told the UNHCR that you are interested in resettlement, the UNHCR will decide whether or not to forward your application to Canada. If Canada receives your application, a Canadian officer will decide if you can come to Canada. It could take several months or more after you and your family have had your Canadian interview before you actually travel to Canada.
  • You decide whether you want to apply to resettle or not. For some people, it is the best choice to make for themselves and their families. For others, the decision may not be so simple. Canada wants to make sure you have all the correct information to make the best decision.

Who will be eligible to come to Canada

If you are interested in resettling to Canada, and are a registered refugee from Bhutan, you should tell the UNHCR. The UNHCR is distributing “Declaration of Interest” forms and will help you decide if resettlement is the best choice for you.
Canada will accept all kinds of refugees, whether you are healthy or sick, young or old. The selection is not based on job skills or education. However, there is no guarantee that you will be accepted to come to Canada. You will be interviewed by a Canadian officer who will make the final decision.
The UNHCR can refer you to Canada if:
  • You have been recognized by the Government of Nepal as a refugee;
  • You participated in the 2007 UNHCR-Government of Nepal Census completed on 11 May 2007;
  • You live in one of seven refugee camps in Nepal—Beldangi-I, Beldangi-II, Beldangi-II ext, Sanischare, Goldhap, Timai and Khudunabari—or you live outside these camps but have been recognized as a refugee by the Government of Nepal as a refugee from Bhutan; and
  • The UNHCR has decided that you are someone who would benefit from going to live in another country.

Questions and answers

Q: Who can apply to resettle to Canada?
A: If you wish to be resettled, you can indicate an interest in resettling to Canada on the Declaration of Interest form distributed by the UNHCR. However, the decision as to which resettlement country a refugee will be referred will be taken by the UNHCR. If you have relatives or friends who have already gone to Canada, and if you wish to live near them, you should let the UNHCR know, and identify those family members or friends.
Q: Do education, training, work experience and age matter if I apply to come to Canada?
A: No. However, all refugees must pass medical, security and criminality examinations to come to Canada. Ultimately, it is a Canadian official who will decide if a person may come to Canada.
Q: How long will it take to go to Canada?
A: It can take several months or more from the time you are interviewed by the Canadian officer to the time you actually travel to Canada.
Q: Will we have to live in refugee camps in Canada?
A: No. There are no refugee camps in Canada. You will live in small or large communities throughout Canada. You will have help in finding a place to live and you will be free to move while in Canada. Once in Canada, you will enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as other permanent residents.
Q: Can I travel with my family to Canada?
A: You and your husband or wife, and children who are 22 years old or younger can apply on the same application form and come to Canada together. Canada also tries to keep families (brothers and sisters, older children) together when they apply at the same time.
For example, an adult man, his wife, his children and his parents and brothers and sisters will all be able to come to Canada together if they apply at the same time. It is very important to tell the UNHCR officers and the Canadian officials, and to list all your family members (including all the children, brothers and sisters, parents, husband and wife), even those who don’t live in Nepal, on your application form when you apply to come to Canada.
People who are not listed on the application may not be able to come to Canada in the future. If you get married or have a baby after your interview, you must tell a Canadian official so that they can be included in your application.
Q: What help will I get in Canada?
A: You will get financial assistance to help you pay for your food and a place to live for your first year in Canada. Someone will welcome you at the airport and you will receive help to adjust to everyday life in Canada. Children will be able to go to school for free and everyone can get free health care. Depending on your needs, a group of Canadians may help you adapt to life in Canada. You will also receive help to learn English or French, the two main languages spoken in Canada, and help to find a job.
Q: Can I become a Canadian citizen?
A: Yes. You will become a permanent resident when you arrive in Canada. After three years in Canada, you may apply for Canadian citizenship.
Q: Do I need to pay money to travel to Canada?
A: The Canadian government will lend you money to pay for your own transportation to Canada and your medical examination. A loan means you will have to repay the total amount to the Government. You must start repaying the money in installments several months after you have arrived in Canada. You will have the chance to work in Canada to support yourself and your family.
Q: Can I come back to Nepal after I have been resettled? Can I go back to Bhutan someday?
A: The purpose of resettling to Canada is for you and your family to start a new life. Should you wish to travel to Nepal after you arrive in Canada, you can apply for a travel document. However, until you are a Canadian citizen, this document will not be recognized for travel to Bhutan. You may travel to Nepal or any other country if you get a visa from those countries. After three years in Canada, you can apply for Canadian citizenship and a Canadian passport.
Q: Is it cold in Canada?
A: This depends on the time of year. Most of Canada has four distinct seasons: spring, summer, autumn and winter. The temperatures and weather in each season can be different from one part of the country to another. Spring (March, April and May) is a rainy season in most parts of Canada, and the weather tends to be cool. In summer (June, July, and August), the weather is very warm in most parts of the country and daytime temperatures are normally above 20°C and can sometimes rise above 30°C. In the autumn (September, October, and November), the weather cools and it can also be very rainy. During the winter months (December, January and February), the temperature in most of the country usually stays below 0°C, day and night.
Temperatures in some parts of the country sometimes drop below -25°C, while along the West Coast, the temperature rarely drops below 0°C. In most of Canada, snow will be on the ground from mid-December to the middle of March. The higher in elevation and the farther north you go, the longer and colder winter becomes. During even the coldest months, however, buildings and houses are well heated, allowing people to live comfortably.
Q: Are there other refugees in Canada? Other Bhutanese?
A: Canada has a tradition of welcoming refugees to Canada. Refugees are permanent residents as soon as they arrive in Canada, and often become Canadian citizens, and live alongside other Canadians. There are Nepali speaking persons of Bhutanese, Nepali and Indian origin in many cities of Canada, but the communities are small. That is why Canada will be resettling 5,000 Bhutanese refugees — to make sure there is a Bhutanese community in the future.
Q: Can I practise my religion in Canada?
A: Yes. In Canada, one can practise one’s religion freely. Freedom of religion is one of Canada’s fundamental freedoms and is enshrined in its laws.

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