Canada urged to open up more to African students

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Canada called to ; open up more to African students

Canada has been singled out for months for its massive refusal of French-speaking students from the African continent.

Justin Trudeau with the Secretary General of La Francophonie, Louise Mushikiwabo, in Djerba, Tunisia.

An African delegate to the Francophonie Summit calls on Canada to be more open to immigration from his continent. In Tunisia, this delicate issue has dogged the Trudeau government as it attempts to strengthen its ties with African countries.

On the exhibition site called the Village de la Francophonie in Djerba, there is always activity in front of the kiosks of Quebec and Canada. Many people inquire about immigration procedures in the hope of obtaining their entry permit to Canada.

I have a son who has had his baccalaureate. I wanted to know if there is a possibility for him to complete his studies in Canada, explains a lady in front of the counter. I'm looking for how to do it and who to contact, she adds.

However, the process is not as easy as it seems. Canada is being harshly criticized for its massive denial of study permits for African nationals. Immigration Canada accuses them, most of the time, of intending to stay in Canada at the end of their training.

Canada's booth is well attended at the Sommet de la Francophonie in Djerba, Tunisia.

Before the Francophonie Summit, this affair even attracted the attention of the international press. The newspaper Le Mondeheadlined last November 8: The Canadian dream, a mirage for many students in French-speaking Africa.

The procedures can seem quite difficult, quite complex, underlines Maguèye Toure, director of la Francophonie from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Senegal, at the microphone of Radio-Canada.

He asks rich countries like Canada to make entry procedures more flexible, especially for students, artists and entrepreneurs.

“People must be able to circulate in all directions between the countries of the North and the countries of the South, and vice versa. It is important that we reflect. »

— Maguèye Toure, Director of La Francophonie at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Senegal

The Senegalese representative finds it hard to understand these barriers to entering Canada, in the context of labor shortage. I know Canada has a need because there are jobs that need to be filled, he says.

In a world in circulation, Mr. Toure emphasizes that young people particularly need in-person, and not just virtual, contact to carry out their various projects.

Called to react during a press scrum at the Francophonie Summit, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mélanie Joly, preferred to pass the buck to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, who was also present.

In a vague response, Marie-France Lalonde admits that there are still challenges. We are working very, very hard to improve the processes and the exchanges between these applicants and our agents, she underlines.

When questioned in turn, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said be disappointed with the rejection rates of students from Africa and that the situation was going to be rectified.

“I asked [Immigration Minister Sean] Fraser directly to look into this issue, we need more and more Francophone students and immigrants. »

— Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

Mélanie Joly at the Francophonie Summit, in Tunisia. She is accompanied by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Marie-France Lalonde.

Recently, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser promised to review the selection process for international students so that they are assessed on criteria more related to their potential and their value.

In a document posted online in September, Immigration Canada acknowledged that there was racism in its own organization and promised to conduct an internal study into the issue.

During its two days, Justin Trudeau had no official bilateral meeting planned in his initial program with leaders of African countries, even if there are many of them at the Francophonie Summit.

Finally, a meeting was added to the schedule on Sunday with the President of Niger.

It is a reunion between Niger and Canada, which was one of our greatest cooperation partners in the 1970s, recalled Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum. There was a little distancing, but we will work to ensure that our ties grow closer.

The Prime Minister also took the time to sit down for official one-on-one meetings with the premiers of Quebec and Armenia, and with the Swiss president.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with Swiss President Ignazio Cassis.

Asked about this, Mélanie Joly rejects the idea that her government has granted little time to African countries. Apart from official bilateral meetings, the minister assures that she and the prime minister have had many conversations with countries such as Benin, Gabon and Senegal, for example. I am doing my job, which is to establish links with these countries, she underlined.

Currently, we know that China and Russia are trying to exert their influence here. It is important for Canada to be present in Tunisia and also across the African continent, she explained.

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