I am from Uganda and in 2016 I was a newcomer and refugee claimant in Toronto Canada, I had a hard time sourcing for information to help me prepare for my hearing. As newcomers, we all have this challenge, most of us keep consulting with friends who end up sharing inaccurate information.

During my time as a volunteer at the Access Alliance, the LGBTQ+ newcomer coordinator Ranjith Kulatilake was so supportive. He made an effort to make sure we are all equipped with the right information for the services we need.

One day he asked me if I had gone for the Ready Tour since my hearing was coming up, and I was wondering what exactly he was talking about. He sat me down and explained to me what exactly it was all about. I was so excited to attend this program. He went ahead and sent Carolina an email and also booked me for the upcoming session.

I arrived at 74 Victoria St. on time for the session since this was the first time to go there. My heart was racing, as I was anxious and didn’t know what to expect. Other participants arrived and the session began. The session had two parts: the hearing process and the appeal process. We asked many questions that were all answered. I walked out very excited for the new information I had learnt and I thank Ranjith for the referral. What really stood out for me was we always need to know the facts from our countries and how it affects your case. Newcomers need to understand that the Member in not interested in seeing you cry or narrating your entire story to him, because he has already read it. All he is looking for is how credible you are and the facts of your case.

Launching of the Ready Tour: Dan Crawford, RPD; Carolina Teves, Ready Tour coordinator, FCJ Refugee Centre; Samia Tecle, Refugee Claim Counsellor, Matthew House

Because of the Ready Tour I was able to access the “National document packages” on the IRB website to clearly understand or align the facts of my case without narrating long irrelevant stories or answers to the questions.

I encourage all Newcomers preparing for their hearing to book for the Ready Tour as it will help them to prepare extensively for the process and of course increase the chances of being accepted.

I pledge to help newcomers to prepare for their hearings.