SFSS Council protests student facing deportation

SFU student Zain Haq led a peaceful civil resistance campaign

This photo is of the SFU stadium at the Burnaby Campus. The stadium is empty but it is a sunny day.
PHOTO: Krystal Chan / The Peak

Editor’s note: Previously, The Peak reported Zain Haq “has been in hiding.” This is not the case, and Haq was released by CSBA a few months ago. The piece has been updated to correct this. 

By: Natalie Cooke, News Writer

The Peak attended the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) Council meeting on January 11. The highlights from the meeting include an SFU student facing deportation and preparation for the students’ federal lobby trip. 

SFU Student Facing Deportation 

Zain Haq is a third-year international student at SFU studying history. Haq is the co-founder of the Save Old Growth campaign and after a series of non-violent highway blockades across the province of BC, Haq is now facing deportation. 

Due to his activist work, Haq has been asked to go to the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA). The CBSA has a duty to remove “all foreign nationals and permanent residents who violate the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act,” according to Dawson Creek Mirror. They report, “Some conditions for obtaining a study permit include obeying the law and the absence of a criminal record.” Haq believes his actions should not be considered illegal because the government is failing to act accordingly towards the climate crisis. Previously, several lawyers suggested he go into hiding as CBSA will attempt to detain him. However, he has since been released and will “report to CBSA twice a week,” according to Haq in a follow-up email to The Peak.

The petition to support Zain Haq notes, “Deportation is an undue punishment for someone who has no arrest record other than being engaged in non-violent civil disobedience to raise awareness for the urgent climate emergency.”

Since 2020, Haq has been arrested 10 times for attempts at civil resistance which involves non-violent protest methods such as strikes, boycotts, and protests. He is also “currently facing five charges of mischief.” 

The SFSS Council explained Haq initiated the hunger strike that led SFU to a full divestment in fossil fuels. “Zain is a huge part of our SFU community and we have a duty to care about our community, especially when we are fighting to protect [students’] rights,” said councillor Eshana Baran, vice-president external and community affairs.

The Council noted the executive committee will address this again in a following meeting in hopes to support Zain Haq. 

With the intention of deportation from the federal court, more than 1,000 people across Vancouver have come together to stop this action. They are pressuring Sean Fraser, minister of citizenship, refugees, and immigration, as well as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to revoke the current proceedings. 

“The attempt to paint a 21-year-old, non-violent university student as a risk to public safety, and bar him from completing his education, is obviously racist and Islamophobic,” said the petition to stop Haq’s deportation.

To support Zain Haq, sign the petition on Open Letter.  

Students Federal Lobby Trip

The SFSS vice-president of external and community affairs, Eshana Baran, is preparing for a federal lobby trip in February 2023, to advocate for SFU undergraduates. 

Under the jurisdiction of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, individuals have the ability to lobby for issues such as expanding grant funds for public sector universities and plans to address inflation. To lobby is to work with governmental officials on making changes to legislative policy, financial benefits, or governmental regulations, among other things. Previously, the SFSS has been successful with federal lobbying for the elimination of interest on federal student loans. 

The SFSS’s current demands include addressing the high cost of living affecting students. 

  • Addressing inflation by increasing policy regarding students 
  • Increase financial support for students, international students, and students with families 
  • Enact a tuition freeze
  • Addressing student food security 

Baran said, “I am looking forward to meeting with the Canadian Federation of Students [ . . . ] It is really cool to create those relationships. ”