(Update) Support committee responds to National Post


On April 4th, the National Post’s John Ivison published an article praising the Conservative government’s devastatingly repressive changes to the immigration and refugee system, and blasted the Awan family’s struggle as lacking credibility.

A letter from the Awan Family Support Committee was published yesterday, and can be found here, or see below.

We want to thank everyone who took the time to write letters to the editor.  Until
Khurshid Begum Awan is granted permanent status, is reunited with her husband here, in Montreal, and the family – as well as migrants – can live in dignity, the struggle continues.

in solidarity,

Awan Family Support Committee


Her life is here

Re: Refugee Red Herring, John Ivison, April 5.

In his hostile commentary, John Ivison makes use of skewed and selective facts, in order to attack the credibility of Khurshid Begum Awan, who has been living in sanctuary in a Montreal church since August of last year.

Mr. Ivison accuses Ms. Awan of faking her illness, citing one doctor, while ignoring contrary medical opinions from the overwhelming majority of doctors who have seen her. His accusation fails to consider the role that stress and trauma often play in precipitating cardiac crises.

Ms. Awan was hospitalized after suffering from a heart attack during a Canada Border Services Agency appointment in July 2013. Since then, doctors have found that Ms. Awan’s health condition has deteriorated. The ongoing threat of arrest and deportation render her unable to leave the church for important medical follow-ups — a source of concern for the doctors from Médecins du Monde who visit her.

Attacks such as Mr. Ivison’s work to reinforce the government’s continual attempts to portray refugees as queue-jumpers and bogus claimants, downplay the devastating consequences of the Harper government’s immigration reforms and erase migrants’ identities and struggles.

A childhood survivor of conflict and displacement herself, Ms. Awan raised her grandson in her daughter’s absence and is his primary maternal figure. Having fled a violent and exploitative relationship, her daughter, Tahira, arrived in Canada alone at age 17, where she has worked tirelessly to survive and support her family for over ten years. Fifteen-year-old Ali witnessed the threats, extortion, intimidation and violence faced by his grandparents in Pakistan. All three have endured, and continue to endure, tremendous stress, isolation and uncertainty in their efforts to keep their family together.

A growing number of supporters, churches and prominent organizations across Quebec and beyond have come to stand behind the family in affirming that Ms. Awan’s life is here in Canada, alongside her daughter and grandson.

The Awan Family Support Committee, Montreal.