The Literary Review of Canada, the country’s “leading forum for discussion and debate about books, culture, politics and ideas,” has published a new essay on the migration of Baha’i refugees to Canada in the 1980s.
This is the first time a major Canadian publication has carried an article that tells the story of cooperation between the Baha’i community and the Canadian government to resettle about 2,300 refugees at the height of the persecutions in Iran. Most of these Baha’i refugees were stranded outside of Iran without valid travel documents. They were sponsored by some 220 local communities across the country, and Canada’s refugee program helped to open the doors to the resettlement of about 6,000 more Baha’is in 25 countries around the world between 1981 and 1989.
The article, written by Geoffrey Cameron, Principal Researcher with the Baha’i Community of Canada, draws from interviews with a number of current and former government officials, including former Minister of Employment and Immigration Lloyd Axworthy, several Baha’is involved with the program, and archival materials and correspondence. Many of the government officials who worked on the program described it as one of the highlights of their careers, because of the trust and cooperation fostered between Baha’i representatives and the Government of Canada in response to a pressing humanitarian situation.
The “special measures” program, which expedited Baha’i applications for resettlement, ended in 1989.
The article can be accessed here.