Protesters bring “No Ban, No Wall” message to Peace Arch Park

By Stefanie Donahue

Canadian demonstrators converged at Peace Arch Park last weekend in response to President Donald Trump’s recent crackdown on immigration.

The protest, titled “No Ban, No Wall – Vancouver” on a Facebook event page, featured a lineup of speakers and performers and drew a crowd of about 150 people to Peace Arch Park on
February 12.

Aryana Sequeira performs an Indian dance during the “No Ban-No Wall” protest. Photos by Stefanie Donahue.

Organizers based in Canada began planning the protest two weeks ago in response to an executive order signed by Trump in late January. The order called for a ban on all refugee admission into the U.S. for 120 days, an indefinite ban on admission of Syrian refugees and the prohibition of individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries – including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – from entering the US for 90 days.

Last week, the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld a decision by a federal judge in Seattle to halt enforcement nationwide and is now tasked with considering if a larger panel of judges should review requests to allow the ban. On February 13, U.S. District Judge James Robart ruled the lawsuit lodged by Washington and Minnesota would proceed, according to reports from The Associated Press. 

Nineteen-year-old Golsa Golestaneh led in organizing the “No Ban, No Wall – Vancouver” protest. The event was originally slated to take place on February 5, but was rescheduled due to weather. Nearly 5,000 people expressed interest in going to the original event online.

Jenny Kwan spoke to protesters at Peace Arch Park.

Golestaneh is a permanent resident of Canada and arrived in the country as a refugee from Iran. For her, the protest was a way to support people like herself on both sides of the border during a time of uncertainty.

“I’m scared,” she said when asked about her thoughts on traveling across the border into the U.S. “At the same time, I’m really appreciative of the people who are supporting people like me.”

The demonstration lasted for most of the day and featured a slew of speakers and performers, including Canadian musician Desirée Dawson and Jenny Kwan, a member of Parliament.

“The U.S. can no longer be deemed as a safe haven for refugees,” said Kwan after calling President Trump’s recent order “discriminatory” and “racist.”

Kwan called on the Canadian government to suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement with the U.S., which only allows individuals to claim refugee status in the country in which they arrive. According to recent news reports, Canada is experiencing an uptick in illegal border traffic as refugees attempt to bypass the law and seek assistance from immigration officers across the border.

“No one is free when others are oppressed,” Kwan said

While most of the speakers took on a serious tone, others offered words of hope. With her mother at her side, 8-year-old Aryana Sequeira read a poem and performed an Indian dance.

“I wish for the world love, kindness and peace,” she said. “If we dance together, we can live peacefully together.”

Protesters carrying signs during a protest on February 12.

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