Canadian passport policy discriminates against Palestinians

View this statement in pdf format.

Montreal, March 18, 2024 — The Anti-Racism Program of the CJPME Foundation (ARPCF) strongly disapproves of the failure to list Palestine as a country of origin on the passport application of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). This absence effectively negates Palestinian identity and contributes to Anti-Palestinian racism by denying the Palestinian people the fundamental acknowledgment of their homeland. A significant outcry on social media in February, 2024, sparked by a popular TikTok video, underscored the frustration and sense of exclusion felt by Palestinian Canadians and their descendants, who find their nation unrepresented in official Canadian bureaucratic processes.

"Ignoring Palestine as a country of origin on Canadian passports is more than an oversight; it's a direct affront to the Palestinian community,” says Jamila Ewais, Researcher for the ARPCF.  “This contributes to the systemic erasure of Palestinian immigrants’ identity and narratives.”  The ARPCF points out that this action, whether intentional or not, fuels Anti-Palestinian racism by invalidating the existence of Palestine and its people.

The ARPCF notes that the impact of this policy goes well beyond mere bureaucratic hurdles.  By not including Palestine, Canada unintentionally plays a role in muffling of Palestinian voices and overlooking their ongoing struggle, thereby adding to the worldwide issue of anti-Palestinian racism. Furthermore, this situation underscores Canada's hypocritical stance of not recognizing Palestine, despite the UN's affirmation of Palestinian rights to statehood in 1947 and Palestine’s status as a UN non-member observer state in 2012, which implies recognition of sovereignty.  This situation also hinders individuals' connection to their heritage on official documents.

CJPME urges the IRCC to swiftly rectify the passport issue by officially recognizing Palestine in its administrative processes. IRCC’s recognition of Palestine would correct a profound historical wrong and send a strong message of respect for the rights, culture, heritage and nationality of its Palestinian community.   Such a move would demonstrate that Canada's dedication to diversity, equity and inclusion extends also to Palestinians. Recognizing Palestine as a country of origin across all the Canadian bureaucracy is a critical step in dismantling systemic biases, ensuring that Palestinian Canadians are acknowledged, listened to, and respected within the broader Canadian fabric.