Panel to examine the state of refugee rights in Canada

This year is the 20th anniversary of the Supreme Court of Canada ruling – in what has since become known as the Singh Decision – that refugees are entitled to an oral hearing before the decision-making panel, in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.

The Supreme Court decision about the Singh case was released on April 4, 1985. Since then, organizations in Canada have commemorated refugee rights on the anniversary of that day.

York’s Centre for Refugee Studies will mark Refugee Rights Day with a panel discussion which will take place today from 12:30 to 2pm, in room 305 York Lanes. The panel discussion will examine what has become of refugee rights in Canada, 20 years after the Singh Decision.

The panelists include York sociology Professor Michael Lanphier; Professor Gladys MacPherson, director of the Immigration & Refugee Intensive Program at Osgoode Hall Law School; and Debbie Hill-Corrigan, executive director of Sojourn House, a Toronto shelter for refugees.

Michael Lanphier is a professor of sociology and member of York’s Faculty of Graduate Studies. The editor of the journal Refuge (1985-1987 and 1993-2000) and the former director of York’s Centre for Refugee Studies (1994-1995), Lanphier is currently the centre’s deputy director. He has published several articles and book chapters in his areas of expertise which include: refugee resettlement, Canadian refugee and immigration policy, comparative refugee policy, non-governmental immigrant serving organizations, community resettlement and newcomer integration.

After graduating from the University of Ottawa with her law degree, Gladys MacPerson practised refugee law in Toronto. She served on the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada from 1994 to 2004, first on the refugee division and later on the immigration appeal division.

As the executive director of Sojourn House, a Toronto shelter for refugees, Debbie Hill-Corrigan has worked in the community and social service sector for over 20 years, the last 15 years with refugees, both government assisted and claimants. She was instrumental in the development of the first “Welcoming Class” specifically for refugee children and their parents in partnership with the Toronto Board of Education. Hill-Corrigan is currently overseeing the development of a transitional housing model for refugees to be completed in early 2006.

There is no charge for this event and members of the York community are invited to attend the discussion. For more information, visit York’s Centre for Refugee Studies Web site or e-mail Michele Millard, coordinator, Centre for Refugee Studies, at