The heartless Canadian Embassy
Richard Ho Lung diary of a ghetto priest
Just recently, the Canadian Embassy changed its policy. Having come upon a time when the rich countries have got richer, and the poor countries are once again in a state of slavery, we have to beg to get even a Visitor's Visa. We have to pay to get a visa, and if the application is rejected, the poor do not have any remittance of the few dollars they possess.
We are getting into an ugly time that can only create anger, hostility and irrational behaviour. Then we wonder why there is so much violence and war. Thus, the poor irrationally turn against one another. Soon they will do otherwise.
Unless there is civility, warmth and kindness offered from nation to nation, there will be hatred, and that tends to express itself in only one way.
In a letter, I have told the Canadian Embassy about my utter consternation at the lack of professional courtesy and basic human response to the many attempts we have made to obtain student visas from their visa office. In the case of two of our Missionary of the Poor Brothers needing visas, Canada changed its policy recently, stating that a tertiary education institution must have its own registration number.
We ourselves tried to talk by phone or with someone. In the past years, this was not so, since many of our Brothers had attended the same institution for which they were granted student visas without that requirement. We were advised by the accepting theological school in Toronto (St Philip's Seminary, run by the Oratorian Fathers), that since Canada had changed its policy, it was better to request a temporary or short-term visa, then by the end of the year, at the latest, the school would attain its registration number.
The school administrators from Toronto tried to contact the Canadian Visa office several times, but again, they did not answer and they got no reply to their overseas telephone calls to mention that the Canadian travel laws allow for short-term studies (within three to six months). We ourselves have documents indicating this. The school and ourselves were not able to have an opportunity to contact the Canadian high commissioner to even explain our situation.
Having tried many times to reach someone at the Visa Office to listen to, discuss, and attend to the needs of these Brothers requesting visas, and not having had any response, I advised them that I would be writing The Gleaner in my column about the impersonal and cold treatment, and seeming lack of concern the Missionaries of the Poor have received from the Canadian High Commission.
BAD CHANGE OF ATTITUDE
We have received tremendous respect from the Jamaican nation, Ugandans, Kenyans, the Philippines, India, Haiti, Indonesia, including the United States, and have been honoured in these countries. Is Canada anti-religious and anti-Christian? Is the Canadian High Commission there only to make money, or is it there to serve? I am shocked at the change of attitude in the Canadian High Commission in recent times. Do they have any heart or human understanding anymore in the present admini-stration? I am not impressed by their machines, faxes, phone recording, and emails that separate and hide the high commissioner away from the public. I pity the poor who have no voice.
I write this publicly because hundreds of Jamaicans have expressed this same sentiment to me, and it needs to be voiced publicly.
A woman of the Embassy who refused to give her name to Brother Johan (who handles our Missionary Visas) said to him, "I know what you are up to," implying our brothers want to run away to Canada.
Father Richard HoLung is founder of Missionaries of the Poor.