The recent influx of asylum-seekers coming into Montreal, many of whom may not understand proper apartment-renting procedure, has some landlords taking advantage.
The Organization d’education et d’information logement de Côte-des-Neiges (OEIL) says there have been multiple instances of landlords essentially stealing money from asylum-seekers in need of a permanent place to live.
A representative from OEIL said to CBC Montreal that landlords in the CDN borough (and possibly beyond) are taking money from asylum-seekers, promising them a place to live.
But once landlords receive the cheques, they're not providing a lease or any other form of guarantee in return.
Without a copy of a lease, any asylum-seeker will be unable to receive social welfare, which is arguably essential for the survival of these individuals who have literally just arrived into a new country.
Some real estate companies are also promising private residences to asylum-seekers. But once they arrive, the apartment is actually a shared living space.
In one instance, according to an asylum-seeker speaking to CBC, a Montreal landlord wouldn't pay for repairs when the bathroom ceiling collapsed. Not only that, the landlord-in-question didn't provide a lease to the new renter, or even a mailbox key.
Temporary housing for asylum-seekers has been set up all throughout Montreal. But these individuals need to find their own residence, prompting hasty decisions.
Greed is definitely a major factor in this ongoing issue, as Montreal landlords feel they can rip off individuals new to the country.
Asylum-seekers general lack of knowledge about Quebec's renting regulations makes it easy to pull off such scams, too.
But stereotypical "Canadian niceness" is also to blame.
Kimmyanne Brown, who works for OEIL, said to the CBC that asylum-seekers believe Canadians to be inherently trustworthy.
They've just been welcomed into Canada and feel that everyone is looking out for their best interests.
In July, nearly 3,000 asylum seekers from the US walked across the border into Quebec, and in the first two weeks of August, nearly 4,000 did the same thing.
Prime minster Trudeau even has to issue a statement to warn Americans that the same rules will apply to everyone and that crossing the border illegally will not speed up the process of obtaining refugee status.
The government says that this flow of asylum seekers is unprecedented, but that government is dealing with it, and that anyone who seeks refugee status will have to go through a thorough screening process. Trudeau also mentioned that if asylum seekers can be deported to their country of origin if they enter Canada illegally.
Still, many people are determines to cross into Canada, as you can see in this video. They are literally packing up their suitcases and walking across the border.
The biggest theme in the media for the last few weeks has been the topic of immigration. President Trump's immigration ban was blocked by a federal judge this week, but it looks like the case will be making it all the way to the supreme court.
But it's not just the US making their immigration policies harsher. It's happening everywhere around the world according to The New York Times.
Even though the rest of the world is becoming more unwelcoming and hostile, Canada's arms are wide open. In fact, we're so hospitable, Canadian citizens aren't asking the government to close the borders, we're actually asking for more refugees.
Canada's immigration minister, who was actually a refugee himself, has stated that the biggest criticism he faces is that he needs to bring in more Syrian refugees.
And, fun fact, there are actually more Sikhs in Canada's cabinet than in India's.
Currently, nearly 1 in 5 Canadians are visible minorities, and by 2036, almost half of Canada's population will be made up of immigrants or descendants of immigrants.
It's number like these that have prompted The New York Times to say that Canada is leading the free world.
I believe it's about time for the US to ship over the statue of Liberty to Canada because we obviously deserve it more.
Understanding the daily struggles a refugee must go through is a near impossible task for us in Canada. Safe inside our comfortable homes, in a rather liberal country, we simply don't experience the hardships of a person forced to flee from their country of origin.
McGill student Majdi Hareri wants to combat this fact and help Canadians better understand and sympathize with migrants and refugees. To do so, Hareri, of Syrian-Canadian heritage, is putting himself in the shoes of a refugee (quite literally) as he walks 500 kilometres from Montreal to Toronto entirely on foot.
On average, a migrant or refugee will walk 25 kilometers every single day, and to raise awareness on this daily struggle, Hareri is doing the same. Since April 2nd, Hareri has been walking a full 25km each day, a journey that will go on until April 22nd.
Dubbed the "500 KM Walk for Migrants and Refugees," Hareri hopes his endeavor will raise awareness and sympathy for refugees in need of aid, and support them in any way possible.
For every kilometer he walks, Hareri is also asking Canadian citizens to donate one penny, making for a donation of $5 in total. All funds raised will then go towards a "a charity helping Migrants and Refugees in Europe," as outlined on the philanthropic initiative's website.
Quite the undertaking, both physically and emotionally, Hareri has already experienced a fair amount of obstacles in his journey. The (very) cold weather at the start of the month proved to be rather difficult to deal with, as Hareri documented on his ongoing vlog posts, as did certain physical injuries that came about due to the sheer amount of walking Hareri must do every day.
But hardships are all a part of the process; a truly impassioned undertaking, Hareri has found a way to create positive change while inspiring others to do the same.
The initiative displayed by Hareri demonstrates how one individual can help many, and that we shouldn't pass up a chance to aid those in need. Hareri is giving us all this chance through his 500km walk, so if you can, donate to the crowdfunding campaign and help make a difference.