Canada News

Letter to Dr. Moura Quayle

13 February 2006 at 02:18 | 1202 views

Clement Abass Apaak, an Archeology student from Ghana, is the president of the Simon Fraser University Student Society. In this letter to a Canadian deputy minister, he eloquently presents the plight of international students in British Columbia, Canada.

Dr. Moura Quayle, Deputy Minister
Ministry of Advanced Education
Province of British Columbia
PO Box 9884, Stn Prov Govt,
Victoria, BC V8W 9T6

Urgent Action Needed: International Students in BC and University Act,
section 23(1) (c).<br>

Dr. Quayle,

I write on behalf of international students in Simon Fraser University (SFU)
and the rest of our colleagues in British Columbia’s universities. The
purpose of this letter is to remind you of the above issue, which has been
brought to the attention of your government, and members of the NDP
opposition. May I add that this issue has been on the table for the last
three years and action needs to be taken before the Board of Governor
elections of SFU (slated for March-April 2006).

Just last month, an international student at UBC, Lyle McMahon, did not see
his name on the ballot to select student representatives to the Board of
Governors of UBC because of the restriction in the Act. Lyle has since
appealed his case, resulting in the withholding of the Board of Governors
student election results. Lyle recently received confirmation that the UBC
Senate Elections Committee will hear his appeal. The hearing date is set for
March 2nd, 2006. The committee will be convening to discuss his eligibility
as a candidate for an election that, by provincial law, he is allowed to
vote for others, but not allowed to run as a candidate. His case represents
the case for all international students in BC. We are in contact with Lyle
and plan to take our case for international students even further.

This time, we, international students at SFU plan to seek a court injunction
to prevent the Board of Governors elections of SFU from taking place if
section 23(1) (c) of the University act, which prevents me and other
international students from running for Board of Governor positions is not
repealed or suspended. If that fails, the International Student Group (ISG)
of SFU will get its members to file nominations for the upcoming election as
a protest for the inaction on the section of the act prohibiting us from
seeking positions on the boards of our institution. We have done so in the
past and will continue till the change is made.

We cannot understand why the section of the Act in question has not been
repealed, when all stakeholders now agree that the prohibition is no longer
justified and is discriminatory based on national origin. In fact, the
University Presidents Council, university student governments of BC (the
Alma Mater Society of the University of British Columbia, the UBC Students’
Union - Okanogan, the Simon Fraser Student Society, and the Northern
Undergraduate Student Society, the University of Victoria Student Society),
the Canadian Federation of Students, your government and the NDP opposition
have agreed in principle that the inclusion of international students on the
Board of Governors of post-secondary institutions in BC is overdue. Yet, no
action has been taken to make this possible for over three years since I
brought this to public attention.

I am the current president of the Simon Fraser Student Society. Since I
started in Simon Fraser University in 2001, I have filed and run for the
senate of my school and have been elected on all occasions, this is my
fourth term as a student senator. In the same period, I have tried to run
for one of the two student Board of Governor spots, but have been
disqualified, much like what has happened to Lyle McMahon. As has been
highlighted, international students are already eligible to sit on the
academic senates of post-secondary institutions in British Columbia.
International students comprise 11% of UBC’s student population and about
10% of the SFU’s population.

As was stated in the letter sent to you last year by the student leaders of
BC’s universities, the necessary amendment could be achieved by repealing
section 23(1) (c) of the University Act (RSBC 1996) Chapter 468 which
states: 23 (1) The following persons are not eligible to be or to remain
members of the board: (c) a person who is not a Canadian citizen or is not a
permanent resident under the Immigration Act (Canada). My own investigation
shows that this section can be repealed at the committee level or through
Order-in-Council. Section 23(1) (c) of the University Act has already
demonstrated adaptability in its inclusion of part-time students and
out-of-province students as groups eligible to sit on the Board of

As you may know by now, the BC Progress Board recently proposed ways in
which BC can attract and retain high quality international students, more
recently my own university, Simon Fraser, has been considering ways to
attract and retain international students. May I state that by repealing
the discriminatory section of the Act, 23(1) (c), you will be moving towards
increasing the confidence, comfort, and faith of international students in
BC’s universities. As well, speeding up the process to extend off campus
employment opportunities to international students in BC will help.

Again, let me remind you that the university elections to select students to
Simon Fraser University’s Board of Governors will be held in March-April,
and we, international students in SFU intend to file our nominations. I
call on you, your government and the opposition NDP to repeal the noted
section, so that I and other international students in BC can fully
participate in the governance of our institutions. After all, you have all
agreed that section Act, 23(1) (c) of the University Act of BC has outlived
its usefulness.

Sincerely Yours,

Clement Abas Apaak, On Behalf of International Students in BC
President, Simon Fraser Student Society
Student Senator, Simon Fraser University


MLA. Gordon Campell, Premier of BC
MLA. Murray Coell, Minister for Advanced Education
MLA. Wally Oppal, Attorney General and minister for Justice
MLA. Harry Bloy
MLA. Jenny Kwan
MLA. Gregor Robertson
MLA. John Nuraney
MLA. Bill Barisoff
MLA. Richard Lee
MLA. Al Horning
MLA. Raj Chouhan MLA
Dr. Don Avison, President TUPC
Hon. Allan McEachern, Chancellor, UBC
Dr. Martha Piper, President, UBC
Dr. Michael Stevenson, President, SFU
Dr. Brandt Louie, Chancellor, SFU
Penny Beames, Chairperson Uvic Student Union
Spencer Keys, President, AMS, UBC
Colin Phillips, President, UNBC Student Society
Terry Monteleone, President, CSS, Caribou
Ramin Shadmehr, President, International Student Group, SFU

Clement Abas Apaak (BA, M.Phil, PhD Candidate, Archaeology)
President|Simon Fraser Student Society
Local 23| Canadian Federation of Students
Producer and Host|African Connection 2-4pm on Sat.|CJSF 90.1FM|
Founder and Chair|Canadian Students for Darfur(CSFDarfur)
Office Phone|604-268-6564

Photos: Dr. Quayle, left, and Clement Apaak, right.