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MCC supports U.S. war resisters remaining in Canada
July 8, 2008
WINNIPEG, MAN—A lunchtime prayer vigil will take place at the Canadian Mennonite University July 10 in support of Iraq War resister Corey Glass and up to 200 other U.S. soldiers seeking refugee status in Canada.
This public prayer vigil supports a campaign that urges the Canadian government to allow U.S. war resisters and immediate family members to settle in Canada as permanent residents and to halt deportation actions against them.
The vigil, organized by the Christian Peacemaker Teams, Mennonite Central Committee Canada (MCCC), and Mennonite Church Canada, is held in conjunction with Mennonite Church’s Annual Assembly and People’s Summit.
“Mennonite people have a history of conscientious objection to war,” said Esther Epp-Tiessen, peace program co-coordinator for MCCC. “We have benefitted from Canada’s conscientious objector provisions and we want others to benefit from similar protection.”
Glass is a U.S. National Guard member who served in Iraq for five months in 2005, and fled to Canada after going home on a two-week leave. His deportation date has been set for July 10. If he is deported he will be the first Iraq War resister to be deported from Canada.
Most U.S. conscientious objectors seeking asylum in Canada are young men who have served in military missions in Iraq.
“They signed up voluntarily, but in reality, it is poverty that drives many to sign up,” explained Epp-Tiessen. “Most of them do not have church, community or family support when they make the decision to leave military service. They come to this conviction on their own—that is a pretty big step to take. It takes a lot of courage to go against the stream.”
Thousands of draft dodgers found refuge Canada in the 1960s during the Vietnam War but immigration laws have changed. “Fleeing soldiers have tried to apply for refugee status but to date, nobody has been given permanent residency,” said Epp-Tiessen.
MCCC has supported the coalition through making a presentation to a House of Commons’ Committee on Citizenship and Immigration in December 2007 and participating in letter-writing campaigns.