AGIR Annual General Meeting (AGM) – June 25

Site: Centre 2110, 1500 de Maisonneuve West, Suite 404
Near métro Guy-Concordia (green line)
Date: Wednesday, June 25th, 6pm

AGIR would like to invite you to our Annual General Meeting (AGM)! For those who are new to AGIR, this is an opportunity for you to learn more about us and how you can get involved. For those of you who are already familiar with AGIR, it will be an opportunity to re-connect.

Learn more about our activities this past year and the exciting projects that we have planned for the upcoming year. We have been working very hard this year to develop our internal capacity and we look forward to sharing with you what we have learned and achieved thus far.

If you have any questions about our AGM, please contact us at info@agirmontreal.org.

AGIR AGM Reportback

AGIR’s 2013 Annual General Meeting was held on June 25th at the 2110 Centre. A great big thank you to all those who participated! It was a very inspiring gathering and great to see so much interest in AGIR’s support services and advocacy work with LGBTQ immigrants and refugees. During the AGM, Board Members of 2012-13 presented the year’s financial report and the activities and projects that AGIR has been engaged in. We also presented and approved our priorities for 2013-14, among which include: expanding and structuring our internal capacity for support services, integrating and training new volunteers, increasing social activities for members, continuing to engage in community-driven research, and continuing to work on the organization’s long-term strategic planning. Also, elections were held to fill 6 open positions on AGIR’s Board of Directors. Here is your AGIR Board of Directors for 2013-14: Co-Coordinators: Betty Iglesias (ongoing term) Christina Olivieri (ongoing term) Valeria Contreras (newly-elected) Treasurer: Dario Federico (newly-elected) General Board Members: Edson Emilio Garcia (ongoing term) Edward Woo Jin Lee (newly-elected) Laila (newly-elected) Neil Ladode (newly-elected) Von (newly-elected) Congratulations and a warm welcome to AGIR’s new Board Members! Congratulations as well to Carmen, Juan and Ikemna who were nominated and ran in the elections! Last but not least, a huge heartfelt thanks to outgoing Treasurer, Kevin Stanley, and to outgoing General Board Members, Anderson Bordim and Renata Militzer, for your invaluable contributions and dedication to AGIR over the years! We would also like to thank the following people who made the AGA possible and a huge success: Chris Lau (AGA President), Renata Militzer (AGA Secretary), Ivan Barradas and Christina Olivieri (AGA elections officers), Neil Ladode and Betty Iglesias for the fabulous catering, Valeria Contreras for coordinating the organization of the event, the collaborative effort of AGIR Board Members 2012-13 in the preparation and presentation of the Annual Report, and André Maisonneuve for revision and translation of the French version of the Annual Report. Looking forward to seeing you at AGIR events and activities throughout the upcoming year! We’ll keep you posted! Download the AGIR Annual Report 2013.

Call For Solidarity For Julio!

Please forward this message to your networks but do not contact the media.

AGIR (Action LGBTQ with immigrants and refugees) invites you to join us in our call for solidarity for Julio, a leader within diverse communities, especially with the LGBTQ latin@ community living with HIV. Join us in Julio’s fight to stay in Canada and gain permanent residency. We are advocating for Julio to receive an administrative stay of removal until the 14th of May 2013.

Julio was forced to leave Mexico due to homophobic and serophobic violence and discrimination. He arrived in Canada on the 13th of August 2009 and filed his refugee claim that same day. Soon after his refugee claim was rejected, Julio submitted a request for permanent residency for humanitarian reasons (H & C) and filed a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA). After his PRRA was refused on August 14th while his H & C was refused on October 25th 2012, Julio was given a removal date of January 13th 2013. Soon after a request for a stay of removal, his immigration agent refused this request and instead extended his removal order until February 19th, only 5 days after Julio’s next meeting with his doctor.

Julio’s current health connected to his HIV is complex. He has already suffered from symptoms related to AIDS and is intolerant to a number of antiretroviral medications and so it has been difficult for health care professionals to provide him with an effective treatment. It is of utmost importance that Julio be provided with stay of removal for at least 3 months so that his doctor can evaluate the best antiretroviral therapy alternative. This is because his present combination of medicines includes Darunavir, which is extremely difficult to access in Mexico. A 3 month stay of removal would also allow for appropriate medical follow up treatment for Julio in order to ensure that his antiretroviral therapy is working. Julio is an important community leader who has greatly enriched the lives of those around him. If he is deported, it will be an incredible loss for our communities.

The actions that we are proposing to support Julio will, in the short term, allow him to remain in Canada, while in the long term, push to allow him access to permanent residency. In January 2013, Julio’s lawyer filed an application for leave and Judicial Review to a request to review Julio’s permanent residency refusal and the refusal for the stay of removal. In addition, there has been a request made to the federal court for a stay of removal. These requests for stays of removal were submitted to the federal court on February 6th 2013 and will be plead in court on February 11th at 9:30am.

Below are concrete actions that you can take TODAY (Thursday Feb 7th) and TOMORROW (Friday Feb 8th) to support Julio:

1. Contact the enforcement officer by telephone or e-mail and ask him to reconsider his decision regarding the request for stay of removal, in order for Julio to have an administrative stay of removal until the 14th of May 2013 (so three month after his doctor’s meeting). You can use the model letter that we have included below when you contact the immigration agent.

Dennis Voutos, agent d’exécution de la Loi (enforcement officer)
Agence des services frontaliers du Canada
dennis.voutos@cbsa-asfc.gc.ca
Tel: 514-283-3706

2. If you are part of an organization that would like to provide a letter of support for Julio’s request for a stay of removal, please contact us at info@agirmontreal.org

3. If you would like to receive updates on Julio’s process, please contact us at info@agirmontreal.org

4. Please forward this call you to your networks, but do not contact the media and do not post this on facebook.

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Model letter to send to Enforcement Officer

M. Dennis Voutos,

My name is (insert your name here). I am (insert details regarding your status, employment, etc). I am contacting you to request that you reconsider your decision related to the request for a stay of removal for Julio Cesar Salas Arreola. Julio requires an administrative stay of removal until May 14th 2013.

Julio’s health situation, with respect to his HIV status, is complex. Mr Salas Arreola has already suffered from symptoms related to AIDS and is already intolerant to a number of antiretroviral medications. It’s necessary that health care professionals prescribe him appropriate medical treatment and provide necessary follow up. Since Julio has been prescribed Darunavir (near the end of 2011) as part of a combination of medication, his immune system has greatly improved which has notably positively affected his quality of life. Based on the research of his doctor, access to Darunavir in Mexico is extremely limited and it is highly likely that Julio would be faced with strict eligibility in accessing this medication. Access to Darunavir is not guaranteed in Mexico. Julio’s doctor is ready to study, with Julio, possible alternatives to Darunavir that is available in Mexico and possibly alter his medical treatment. In order for this process to be secure, it requires at least a three month follow up in order to ensure that Julio is not tolerant to new medications and that his HIV levels remain stable.

Julio’s particular circumstances means that any interruption to his medication therapy, even if it’s temporary, can have dire consequences, including the re-emergence of symptoms related to AIDS. Mr. Salas Arreola can not proceed with any modification to his medication therapy because he is presently required to leave Canada only 5 days after his next doctor’s meeting. A three month follow up process is necessary if there is any kind of change to Julio’s medication therapy, in order to ensure that his HIV levels remain stable. For all these reasons, Julio absolutely requires an administrative stay of removal for at least three months.

Since his arrival to Canada almost four years ago, Julio has become rooted within multiple diverse communities. Julio has especially been involved with Latin@s Positiv@s (in Montreal and Toronto), an HIV support group for the gay latino community affiliated with the community organisation AIDS Community Cares Montreal (ACCM). In January 2012, Julio became the coordinator for Latin@s Positiv@s in Montreal. In addition, he has participated in leadership and volunteer training programs for Latin@s Positiv@s in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa. Julio is also involved with AGIR (Action LGBTQ with immigrants and refugees). Julio is a community leader who has greatly enriched the lives of those around him.

The rejection of this request for administrative stay of removal puts Julio’s health and life at risk. I request that you intervene with the power that you have to provide Julio with an administrative stay of removal until the 14th of May 2013, in order to ensure that Mr Salas Arreola’s health and HIV levels remain stable.

Sincerely,

(insert your name)

Context

In August 2009, Julio was forced to leave Mexico due to homophobic and serophobic violence and discrimination. In Mexico, Julio was a community activist pushing for the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) community and those living with HIV. Homophobic attacks in Mexico are common – ¾ of lesbian and gay people are victims of physical violence. In addition, the human rights violations committed by the Mexican police, along with their impunity, has been well documented by Amnesty International’s 2011 report. Mexico is at a critical juncture with respect to questions being asked about the security and access to justice for its citizens. The government is not able to ensure its population with equitable access to justice. Within this context, violence and impunity constitute grave problems, which has particular consequences on the LGBT community – a clear example being the elevated number of hate crimes and assassinations against LGBT people. Julio will be at greater risk to be a victim of violence and discrimination since he is an LGBT and HIV human rights activist.

Julio arrived in Canada on the 13th of August 2009 and filed his refugee claim that same day. Soon after his refugee claim was rejected in September 2011, Julio submitted a request for permanent residency for humanitarian reasons (H & C) and filed a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRAA). After his PRAA was refused on August 14th 2012 and his H & C was refused on October 25th 2012, Julio was given a removal date of January 13th 2013. Soon after a request for a stay of removal, the enforcement officer refused this request and instead extended his removal order until February 19th, only 5 days after Julio’s next meeting with his doctor.

Julio’s lawyer introduced an application for leave and judicial review in January 2013 in order to appeal the decision to refuse Julio’s H & C application and also the refusal for an administrative stay of removal. In addition, in order for Julio to be able to stay in Canada during the study of the application for leave and judicial review, a stay request of his removal was requested. The requests for stays were submitted to the federal court on February 6th and will be pleaded in court on Monday, February 11th 2013 at 9:30am.

Our short term goal is for Julio to receive an administrative stay of removal until May 14th 2013. However, our long term goal is for Julio to gain permanent residency by having his H & C be re-evaluated. Due to Julio’s HIV status, he requires specialized health care treatment, which includes a particular combination of HIV medication. This is especially due to Julio has already suffered from symptoms related to AIDS and is already intolerant to a number of antiretroviral medications. There are problems with equitable access to HIV medicine in Mexico, especially with respect to the specific HIV medication that has been prescribed to Julio. In addition, general stigma against those living with HIV results in additional challenges in accessing HIV treatment. As a gay man and being HIV positive – Julio will encounter multiple forms of discrimination, making his employment opportunities especially difficult.

Since Julio’s arrival to Canada nearly 4 years ago, Julio has become rooted within diverse communities. He has been able to find employment and so continues to contribute to the economic well-being of this country. In addition, Julio has consistently taken courses to learn and improve his French language skills. Most importantly, he has made significant contributions to Canadian society through his volunteering and involvement within a number of community organizations. For example, he is involved with Latin@s Positiv@s, an HIV support group for LGBTQ latin@s (affiliated with AIDS Community Cares Montreal (ACCM)). In January 2012, Julio became the coordinator for Latin@s Positiv@s, taking on this leadership role in order to support community members living with HIV and helping to break social isolation. In addition, he has participated in cross-regional leadership and volunteer development trainings, twice a year in 2011 and 2012, with other members of Latin@s Positiv@s in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa. Julio is also involved with AGIR (Action LGBTQ with immigrants and refugees).

Julio is truly a community leader who has greatly enriched the community around him. If he is deported, it would not only place his life as risk, but it would be a great loss for our communities. Julio’s case also highlights the obstacles facing LGBT and HIV positive refugee claimants within the Canadian refugee system. This law goes against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the International Refugee Convention and the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. This already difficult process will become worse with the recently implemented Law C-31, increasing the numbers of migrants detained and deported.

Join us in solidarity with our fight with Julio and for the dignity of all immigrants and refugees.