Responses to Information Requests

​​Responses to Information Requests (RIR) are research reports on country conditions. They are requested by IRB decision makers.

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13 August 2018

ZZZ106153.E

Canada and Somalia: Somali-Canadian associations in Canada, including their history, activities, services offered and affiliation with Somalia; letter issued to establish the identity of Somalis and the methods used for this purpose (2016-August 2018)

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

1. Somali Immigrant Aid Organization (SIAO)

According to the SIAO's website, the organization is located in Toronto (SIAO n.d.a). The same source states that the SIAO was established in 1986 and is "committed to adressing the integration, education, health, housing, social services, culture, and economic development needs of Somali Canadians and other immigrants in Canada, through programs[,] services and advocacy" (SIAO n.d.a).

The SIAO's website indicates that the organization provides the following services:

  • Language Instructions for Newcomers (LINC) Program
  • Health and Community Programs (i.e.: PWW, HIV/AIDS)
  • Youth Opportunities program
  • Family Support programs
  • Pre-Employment Development and Employment counseling/Workshop
  • Information and referrals services on Immigration, and Housing
  • Community Development & Community economics Development programs
  • Translation/interpretation services. (SIAO n.d.b)

Information on the SIAO's connections in Somalia could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Information on the availability of letters issued by the SIAO in order to establish the identity of undocumented Somali migrants could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

2. Somali Canadian Association of Etobicoke (SCAE)

On its website, the SCAE states that it "is a non-profit community-based organization established in 1987" (SCAE n.d.a.). The same source adds that it provides "a wide range of services to Somali immigrants and refugees" to help them to adapt to life in Canada (SCAE n.d.a).

According to its website, the SCAE offers the following services:

  • Information and referrals[.]
  • Translation and interpretatio[n] services.
  • Instruction of English as a second language.
  • Counselling and Seniors Program[.]
  • Workshop [for] services providers on the cultural values of Somalis.
  • Form filling and Youth service[.]
  • Organizing of community advocacy groups (women, seniors and youth)[.]
  • Organizing workshops on access to services.
  • Escorting clients to government and social service office[s][.]
  • Assistance to Somali refugees with proof of citizenship requirement[s]. (SCAE n.d.b)

The SCAE also states on its website that it receives funding from the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario and from the City of Toronto (SCAE n.d.c).

Information on the SCAE's connections in Somalia could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

In a telephone interview with the Research Directorate, a representative of the SCAE provided the following information:

In order to issue a letter establishing the identity of an undocumented Somali migrant, the client is asked to provide two witnesses who knew them in Somalia and who, under oath, can confirm their identity and corroborate the client's city or town of origin. The SCAE may also ask the client questions about Somalia and the client's clan, place of birth, and places of residence in Somalia, in order to assess their knowledge of Somalia. The SCAE may also reach out to its network of contacts coming from different regions in Somalia in order to corroborate the client's story with people coming from the same region or belonging to the same clan. After this assessment, the SCAE provides a letter stating that the client's identity was corroborated by two witnesses (SCAE 23 July 2018).

3. Somali Canadian Youth Centre (SCYC)

On its website, the SCYC states that it was established in 2006 and that it "provides advocacy, educational programs, leadership training, social services and broad supports that are culturally sensitive to youth and their families in the Ottawa area" (SCYC n.d.).

The SCYC website further adds that it offers services with regard to the following:

  • Community Support Services
  • Townhalls
  • Leadership training
  • Youth at Risk
  • Workshops. (SCYC n.d.)

The SCYC website specifies that Community Support Services include

support with affidavits, correspondence, and other documentation, translation, logistical support for parents, networking through the various social services and legal offices seeking answers, connecting with law firms, fundraising for retainers, and attending at political offices to request help or guidance for such individuals in needs.

The subject matter included is family law, immigration, health care, employment, criminal justice and more. (SCYC n.d)

On its website, the SCYC reports that the organization was awarded a "significant grant from the Ottawa Community Foundation" to support an "exit strategy" project for inmates [to assist with re-integration into society] (SCYC n.d.).

Information on the SCYC's connections in Somalia could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Information on the availability of letters issued by the SCYC in order to establish the identity of undocumented Somali migrants could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

4. Somali Centre For Family Services (SCFS)

According to its website, the SCFS was founded in 1991, in response to a "large influx of Somali newcomers to Canada" (SCFS n.d.a). Its main objective is to

assist refugees and immigrants in need - particularly the needs of Somali families and individuals living in Ottawa - through parternships, services, and programs that are timely, culturally appropriate, and address their concerns. (SCFS n.d.a)

The SCFS website states that, regarding settlement programs, the organisation provides the following services:

  • Orientation
  • Information sessions
  • Workshops on job search programs
  • Volunteer programs
  • English Conversation Groups
  • Homework Help Program
  • Canadian Citizenship Study
  • Drop-in services and referrals. (SCFS n.d.b)

According to its website, the SCFS receives funds from Citizenship and Immigration Canada [now Immigration, Refugees and Citzenship Canada], the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship, Culture and Recreation, the City of Ottawa, the Ontario Trillium Foundation and Legal Aid Ontario (SCFS n.d.a).

Information on the SCFS's connections in Somalia could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

In a telephone interview with the Research Directorate, the Coordinator of Settlement Services provided the following information:

The SCFS does not directly provide letters establishing identity to clients. Instead, it helps them with the process of verifing their identity and nationality. If needed, the SCSF can help a client to find and contact relatives or acquaintances who knew them in Somalia. The association refers clients to lawyers who can sign and legalize a document along with the testimonies of witnesses regarding the client's identity (SCFS 24 July 2018).

5. Somali Canadian Association of Waterloo Region (SCAWR)

According to its website, the SCAWR is a non-profit community association created in 1993 to raise awarness about "Somali refugee needs" (SCAWR n.d.). The association aims to improve the lives of Somali Canadians and immigrants "by motivating its members to actively participate in social service programs and by preserving their culture" (SCAWR n.d.). The same source states that SCAWR objectives are the following :

  • To promote fair access to employment, health, education, legal settlement and social services.
  • To provide comprehensive information and referral services to the Somali Community.
  • To facilitate the recognition of a distinctive Somali community in [the] Waterloo Region through education, community outreach and interpretation and translation of documents.
  • Besides the Somali community, SCAWR also collaborates closely with Canadian, African, Arab, [and] Asian [communities]; establishing a network with all community organizations and service providers.
  • To encourage academic excellence among youth members and exchange information on the matters of education.
  • To assist in immigration affairs and how Somalis would positively integrate into the Canadian society. (SCAWR n.d)

The source further lists the following services provided by SCAWR:

  • Youth counseling and advocacy
  • Immigration process assistant
  • Translation and Interpretation services
  • Orientation and workshops
  • Educational Services: Homework Program and Weekends Schooling
  • Housing and community legal services referrals
  • Family [c]ounseling and support groups
  • Recreational [a]ctivities such as sport events for youth and kids
  • Creating sense of identity, community and cultural awareness. (SCAWR n.d)

Information on SCAWR's connections in Somalia could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Information on letters issued by SCAWR establishing the identity of Somali undocumented migrants could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

6. Prairie Somali Canadian Community Centre (PSCCC)

According to its website, the PSCCC was established in 2011 as a community-based non-profit organization (PSCCC n.d.a). It provides services mainly to Saskatchewan's "growing Somali ethnic community" (PSCCC n.d.a).

On its website, the PSCCC indicates the services its provides :

  • Employment services
  • [Support and prevention program addressing] domestic violence
  • Settlement Services
  • Immigration and Citizenship Services
  • Integration Programs. (PSCCC n.d.b)

On its website, the PSCCC specifies that with regards to immigration and citizenship Services, it helps

immigrants and [r]efugees with immigration/citizenship paperwork, such as sponsorship applications for family and relative reunifications, refugee asylum applications and rejection appeal processes, translation of foreign issued documents, interpretation services[,] as well as applying for permanent resident cards, travel documents for refugees and protected persons, citizenship and Canadian passport applications[,] as well as citizenship test prep classes. (PSCCC n.d.b)

Information on the PSCCC's connections in Somalia could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Information on the availability of letters issued by the PSCCC in order to establish the identity of undocumented Somali migrants could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

7. Somali Canadian Society of Calgary (SCSC)

According to its website, the SCSC was established in 2010 and is a non-profit organization to attend to the "cultural, psychological and socio-economic" needs of "the refugees, immigrants and youth in Calgary and surrounding cities" (SCSC n.d.). The website adds that the SCSC provides "information, referral advocacy, social and support services" to new immigrants and states the following regarding its mission and its vision:

The [SCSC] is dedicated to promoting, inspiring, and enriching the lives of Calgarian children, refugees, new comers, and families through programs addressing social, spiritual, and educational needs[.]

  • We believe in value and high quality community social service that promotes building a better and prosperous society
  • We are accessible, equitable and accountable to the community
  • We serve clients regardless of race, national origin, ethnicity, culture, gender, sex, sexual orientation, age, ability or religion
  • We believe in working in partnership and collaboratively with other service providers to make a difference in developing the community and the society. (SCSC n.d.)

In a telephone interview with the Research Directorate, the President of the SCSC provided the following information:

When a client needs to obtain a letter establishing their identity, they must come to the SCSC office. There, they have to fill and sign a questionnaire on their identity details (name, parents' names, date and place of birth, tribe and subtribe). They also need to provide the contact details of two witnesses who live in Canada and who knew them in Somalia. A representative from the SCSC contacts the witnesses to ascertain how long and how well they knew the client in Somalia. To verify the client's region of origin, the SCSC uses the witnesses' testimonies, the client's accent and knowledge of their region of origin in order to verify his claims. Once the client's identity is ascertained, the SCSC issues a letter stating that, according to verifications made by the organizations and witnesses' statements, the holder is Somali (SCSC 24 July 2018).

Regarding connections in Somalia, the President explained that the SCSC's focus is on activities in Canada, including providing services to the Somali community in Canada (SCSC 24 July 2018).

8. Somali Canadian Cultural Society of Edmonton (SCCSE)

According to its website, the SCCSE began its activities as a non-profit organization in 1991 and was incorporated in 2001 (SCCSE n.d.). The SCCSE's website indicates that its purpose is to "meet the needs of the Somali Canadian community in Edmonton and its surroundings" (SCCSE n.d.). It adds that it provides settlement services and services for women, seniors, and youth in order to help with integration into mainstream Canadian society (SCCSE n.d.).

The SCCSE indicates on its website that it has received funding from the three levels of government, and more specifically from:

Public Safety-Crime Prevention, Wild Rose Foundation, Culture and Community Spirit-Alberta Education Fund, Alberta Human Rights, Alberta Justice, Crime Prevention and Restorative Justice, Canadian Heritage, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and the City of Edmonton. (SCCSE n.d.)

Information on SCAWR's connections in Somalia could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

In a correspondence with the Research Directorate, the President of the SCCSE gave the following details on the process of identification for an undocumented Somali client:

An undocumented Somali client seeking to have his identity authenticated will have to bring "two known community members (either Canadian citizen or permanent resident) who knew them personally in Somalia [or in Canada]." Those community members have to provide a piece of identity issued by the government (driver's licence, citizenship card or permanent resident card). The SCCSE will then interview the client and the witnesses about their city or town of origin in Somalia as well as about their relationship to each other. If it is unclear that the client is Somali, the SCCSE may ask them more questions about their clan or lineage and ask them to provide additional witnesses. The SCCSE will also use the client's dialect and the organization's contacts in Somali communities across Canada to confirm the client's region of origin and clan (SCCSE 25 July 2018).

The SCCSE President also indicated that for younger Somali who may have been born in refugee camps, the process is longer because the identity of the client's parents and their Somali nationality will have to be established beforehand (SCCSE 25 July 2018).

The President further explained that once their identity and Somali lineage and the integrity of the witnesses is established, the organization issues a letter confirming the client's identity and Somali origin (SCCSE 25 July 2018).

9. Somali Canadian Education & Rural Development Organization (SCERDO)

According to its website, SCERDO started its activities in November 1999 (SCERDO n.d.a) and is based in Edmonton (SCERDO n.d.b). The source further indicates that its main objective is to "promote the educational needs for all Somalis at home, and around the world" (SCERDO n.d.a).

According to its website, SCERDO has participated in seven different development projects in Somalia (SCERDO n.d.c). These projects include famine and drought relief efforts, building health and education infrastructures, and vocational training for youth (SCERDO n.d.c). The same source indicates that the projects took place in various regions of Somalia: the city of Ceegag, Gedo region, Awdal region, and the city of Burao (SCERDO n.d.c). According to the same source, several projects were conducted in partnership with the government of Alberta (SCERDO 28 July 2009; SCERDO 26 June 2016; SCERDO 23 June 2017), as well as Global Affairs Canada (SCERDO 15 June 2014).

On a pamphlet available on its website, SCERDO indicates that it provides the following services: employment services; private sponsorship of refugee program; a senior's program; sports and recreation activities and newcomers' settlement (SCERDO n.d.d). Concerning newcomers' settlement, SCERDO specifies that it includes "general information, help with form-filling and documents, translation, and health care information" (SCERDO n.d.d). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, the SCERDO Executive Director stated that 85 percent of their regular clients are newcomers from Somalia, mainly youth, women, and seniors (SCERDO 26 July 2018).

The Executive Director provided the following information regarding letters issued by the organization in order to establish the identity of undocumented Somalis:

When clients of Somali origin come to our office and ask to help to prove themselves as a Somali citizen, we take an in depth interview about their background, including their place of birth including the town, district and region. We also ask them some general knowledge about the history of Somalia, such as geography, culture, language and customs. After that, we send clients to the Public Notary (Commission of Oath) in which they go with two persons who knew them in Somalia, as witnesses, and then they come back to us and we write them a letter of support that further establish[es] their Somali identity. (SCERDO 26 July 2018)

10. Manitoba Somali Association

Information on the Manitoba Somali Association could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Prairie Somali Canadian Community Center (PSCCCC). N.d.a. "Welcome to the Prairie Somali Canadian Community Center." [Accessed 24 July 2018]

Prairie Somali Canadian Community Center (PSCCCC). N.d.b. "Services." [Accessed 24 July 2018]

Somali Canadian Association of Etobicoke (SCAE). 23 July 2018. Telephone interview with the Director.

Somali Canadian Association of Etobicoke (SCAE). N.d.a. "Home." [Accessed 24 July 2018]

Somali Canadian Association of Etobicoke (SCAE). N.d.b. "Services." [Accessed 24 July 2018]

Somali Canadian Association of Etobicoke (SCAE). N.d.c. "Projects." [Accessed 24 July 2018]

Somali Canadian Association of Waterloo Region (SCAWR). N.d. "Vision/Structure." [Accessed 24 July 2018]

Somali Canadian Cultural Society of Edmonton (SCCSE). 25 July 2018. Correspondence from the President to the Research Directorate.

Somali Canadian Cultural Society of Edmonton (SCCSE). N.d. "About Us." [Accessed 24 July 2018]

Somali Canadian Education and Rural Development Organization (SCERDO). 26 July 2018. Correspondence from the Executive Director with the Research Directorate.

Somali Canadian Education and Rural Development Organization (SCERDO). 23 June 2017. "Drought Relief Project in Somalia." [Accessed 24 July 2018]

Somali Canadian Education and Rural Development Organization (SCERDO). 26 June 2016. "Mother and Child Health Centre in Ceegaag, Somalia." [Accessed 24 July 2018]

Somali Canadian Education and Rural Development Organization (SCERDO). 15 June 2014. "Ceegaag Water Project in Somalia." [Accessed 24 July 2018]

Somali Canadian Education and Rural Development Organization (SCERDO). 28 July 2009. "Primary and Intermediate School in Somalia." [Accessed 24 July 2018]

Somali Canadian Education and Rural Development Organization (SCERDO). N.d.a. "About Us." [Accessed 24 July 2018]

Somali Canadian Education and Rural Development Organization (SCERDO). N.d.b. "Contact Us." [Accessed 9 August 2018]

Somali Canadian Education and Rural Development Organization (SCERDO). N.d.c. "International Projects." [Accessed 24 July 2018]

Somali Canadian Education and Rural Development Organization (SCERDO). N.d.d. "Somali Canadian Education and Rural development Organization (SCERDO): A Non-Profit Charity Organization Serving You Since 1999." [Accessed 24 July 2018]

Somali Canadian Society of Calgary (SCSC). 24 July 2018. Telephone interview with the President.

Somali Canadian Society of Calgary (SCSC). N.d. "About Us." [Accessed 24 July 2018]

Somali Canadian Youth Center (SCYC). N.d. "Somali Canadian Youth Center." [Accessed on 24 July 2018]

Somali Centre for Family Services (SCFS). 24 July 2018. Telephone interview with the Coordinator of Settlement Programs.

Somali Centre for Family Services (SCFS). N.d.a. "About Us." [Accessed 24 July 2018]

Somali Centre for Family Services (SCFS). N.d.b. "Settlement Programs and Outcomes" [Accessed 24 July 2018]

Somali Immigrant Aid Organization (SIAO). N.d.a. "About Us." [Accessed 24 July 2018]

Somali Immigrant Aid Organization (SIAO). N.d.b. "Programs & Services," [Accessed 24 July 2018]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Manitoba Somali Association; Prairie Somali Canadian Community Center; Somali Canadian Association of Waterloo Region; Somali Immigration Aid Organization.

Internet sites, including: CBC; Factiva; Winnipeg Free Press; Winnipeg Sun.