1st Session, 42nd Parliament,
Volume 150, Issue 108

Tuesday, April 4, 2017
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker

Refugee Rights Day

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, I rise today, on Refugee Rights Day, to thank Canadians for welcoming Ugandan refugees into Canada 45 years ago.

My father, Sherali Bandali Jaffer, a member of Parliament who had fought for Uganda’s independence, and my family went from being Ugandans to being stateless overnight. My father fled Uganda as a person targeted to be killed. He barely managed to escape, leaving just as the Ugandan army had arrived at our home to take him. My husband was also detained.

Honourable senators, we lost everything. We lost our belongings, we lost our homes and, most of all, we lost our country, Uganda.

There were global efforts to give us asylum, under the leadership of the United Nations High Commissioner.

I would like to thank Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan and His Highness the Aga Khan for their hard work to get us asylum outside of Uganda.

Honourable senators, every hour we hear of refugees fleeing their homes by foot, boat and plane. I ask you not to turn a deaf ear to their pleas. These people flee because their families will be maimed, raped or killed if they stay in their homeland.

In Turkey, I met a Syrian father whose story emphasizes this. He said:

I stayed in Syria as long as I could. I thought things would improve, but when the bombs kept raining down near my home, I knew I had to flee.

The day we fled, my two eldest boys were captured. I never saw them again.

Two days into our journey we were struck by bombs. I lost my youngest child, and my eldest daughter lost all her limbs from barrel bombs.

I was a father to 6 children, but now half my family is gone and my daughter is in pain every day.

I did not want to flee my home, but I did to save my family.


Honourable senators, there are thousands of people making this decision to leave their homes to save the lives of their families. On this refugee day, I would like to ask Canadians to continue to be compassionate as they were 45 years ago, when they opened their doors to my own family.