Date of Graduation

Fall 12-13-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies (MAIS)


College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Anne L. Bartlett

Second Advisor


Third Advisor



This thesis addresses the plight of Sub-Saharan Africans who are now Canadians and are trying to settle in a new country in order to reunite with their family members. However, rather than assisting with process of resettlement, current Canadian policy has the opposite effect. It appears to create a route by which people can sponsor their loved ones, but in reality the nature of the process is arduous and filled with time delays, regulatory and processing issues and other kinds of difficulties. Consequently, what therefore appears as a hopeful situation ends up creating despair. This situation is particularly hard for those who have lived under so many challenges such as lack of proper food, no health care, racism and threats of violence from militias. Many of them have lived this way in vain believing that there might be peace and stability, yet today they still suffer from chronic uncertainty of whether they can see each other again.

This thesis utilizes primary data collected from refugees in Ottawa and secondary data to argue that the system that is supposed to help is now failing these people. It shows exactly what kinds of obstacles are the most problematic to family reunification. It outlines the way that Canada’s immigration rules and regulations for family reunification via private sponsorship require a sponsor to have a certain amount of annual income or funds available. This leaves the low income people of Sub-Saharan origin with no another option but to wait in vain and live a hand to mouth existence. Looking in detail at these issues, this thesis concludes by proposing some changes to the system that is causing these problems.