The Afro-Anglicanism conference opened without the participation of 12 delegates, mainly youths from Uganda, who were denied visas by the Canadian High Commission in Kenya.
After making two applications and having met all the requirements asked by the commission, the Ugandan delegation was still denied visas.
“We gave them letters from our employers, bank statements, land title deeds, marriage certificates for those married, letters from spouses, birth certificates for our children, invitation letters, hotel and air tickets reservations, visa applications fees, support letters from our bishop and information about organizations that were sponsoring the trip,” said Stephen Masiga, one of the delegates in an email sent to the Rev. Paul Feheley, principal secretary to the Canadian Primate.
The reason given for the refusal was the poor “economic status of Uganda,” said Mr. Masiga. “If this was the case, the embassy should have informed us in our first interview that they cannot give us visas because of the economic status of our country, and should not have accepted our second application fees,” he argued.
In his welcome remarks to the delegates at St. James Cathedral, Archbishop Andrew Hutchison expressed his regret for the way the Ugandan delegation was treated, and apologized on behalf of the Anglican Church of Canada and Canadian people who had invited the delegates to the event.
The organizers of the conference and the primate’s office, through Archdeacon Feheley, worked tirelessly to negotiate with the commission staff in Kenya. “I spoke to Barbara Richardson the acting Canadian High Commissioner in Kenya, and appealed to her to reconsider their decision and even sent a follow-up letter with all the names of the delegates, but still visas were denied,” said Archdeacon Feheley.
The Afro-Anglicanism conference held once every 10 years is taking place at the University of Toronto’s 89 Chestnut Hotel and Residence. Over 250 delegates from Africa, the Caribbean, United Kingdom, USA and Canada are currently attending the conference that will end July 27.
This year’s conference has put a lot of emphasis on youth participation. “It is such a blow to the youth participation at the conference,” Canon Stephen Fields, local co-ordiantor, “the youth perspective of that part of Africa will be missed.”
However, the Ugandan delegation faxed their presentation to the conference and it will be read out to the other participants.
“We were not seeking to be refugees in Canada, but were coming to celebrate and share the gifts of Afro-Anglicanism and affirming the ministry of black Anglicans throughout the world,” said Mr. Masiga, suggesting that the next conference be held in countries like South America, Western Europe and Africa “where all people can participate without hindrance.”
For further information please contact:
Rev. Canon Stephen Fields, Chair of the local planning committee
2259 Jane Street
Toronto, ON M3M 1A6
Fax: (416) 248-5415
Email: [email protected]
For participation and registration information, please visit the conference website:
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