Hundreds of years ago, slaves sought the North Star to point them in the direction of Northern states and Canada so they they could escape a live of slavery and degradation. Now a Black American is trying to do the same by seeking refugee status in Canada claiming that he’s in danger in America because of his race.
Kyle Lydell Canty, 30, crossed into B.C.’s Lower Mainland in early September of 2015, telling border agents that he was here to visit and take photographs, but once in Vancouver decided he would apply to remain as a refugee.
“I’m in fear of my life because I’m black,” he told IRB member Ron Yamauchi in a hearing on October 23rd in Vancouver. “This is a well-founded fear.”
Canty argues that black people are “being exterminated at an alarming rate” in the U.S. and included examples such as the shooting of Michael Brown in Missouri and the death of Eric Garner in New York City at the hands of police.
Canty represented himself at the hearing, which he applied to have made public, and was commended by Yamauchi at its conclusion, who said Canty had put together a “well prepared case … and argued it as well as it could be.”
Canty submitted a significant evidence package to the IRB including videos, media reports and the UNHCR’s handbook on determining refugee status.
In order for someone to be called a refugee in Canada, they must prove they are in danger in their home country, “that you’re someone with a well-founded fear of persecution in your country, based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.” said Melissa Anderson. who speaks for the IRB.
Born in New York, Canty has lived in six different states before arriving in Canada, a country he says he’s never been to before.
He told the IRB that in every state he resided, police have harassed him and targeted him because of his race.
As part of evidence submitted to the board, Canty edited together multiple point-of-view videos of his interaction with police, including one where he was arrested for trespass in Salem, Oregon, when he spent two hours talking on the phone and using free Wi-Fi at a bus station.
“I got bothered because I’m black,” he said. “This is a history of false arrest. My name is ruined because of the false arrest.”