Hon. Amina Gerba: Honourable senators, Roxham Road is sadly known as an easy way for asylum seekers to get into Canada, and many people are calling for it to be closed. That is how Roxham Road is presented to us every day in the media, and the topic stirs up partisan debate in our governments on immigration management.
As part of my ongoing series for Black History Month, today I have decided to talk to you about Roxham Road from a different angle, through the eyes of a person who embodies the selflessness, altruism and bravery of a true citizen.
It is with great pleasure that I pay tribute here to a person whose actions are improving lives: Kicha Estimée.
Kicha is a product of immigration herself and has spent years helping immigrants deal with the many challenges of life abroad. As a social worker at the Laval Immigration Holding Centre, Kicha was appalled by the conditions in which residents were living. To her, the centre seemed like a prison.
She also noticed there were few support services available, even though most of these immigrants need someone to take them by the hand and teach them how to live in their new country.
This gave Kicha the idea to create a welcome centre that would help guide immigrants through the process and provide shelter to those who are going through a tough time. This centre, known as the Centre d’hébergement Latraverse, was created in 2020 in Montreal North and has become the first stop for new immigrants, many of whom come in through Roxham Road.
In the few years it has been open, this centre has already welcomed and helped thousands of people by providing food, clothing, compassion and short-, medium- or long-term accommodation.
Colleagues, while our governments sit around and debate, ordinary folks like Kicha Estimée are taking action. While our governments speculate on how to integrate immigrants, kind souls are investing their own money for the well-being of humanity. We must support and encourage these kinds of initiatives, because they illustrate how compassionate Canadians are.
Please join me in wishing Kicha the very best for the continued success for her bold initiative.