Sanctuary City Community Dialogue

Vancouver as a Sanctuary City:

Providing safety to Residents with Precarious Status: Delivering Access without Fear

February 13, 2020 – 6:15 – Upper Lobby of the Vancouver Playhouse.

Join us before Anywhere But Here for a pre-show discussion in the Upper Lobby of the Vancouver Playhouse, with Vancouver City Councillor Jean Swanson, Luis Porte Petit of Dogwood, BC’s largest non-partisan citizen action network, Byron Cruz from Sanctuary Health and others. Listen, ask questions, participate.

Moderated by Playwright Carmen Aguirre, our panel will introduce you to the ideas behind the Sanctuary City, and share their lived experience with Residents with Precarious Status in Vancouver, and what it may take to truly become a Sanctuary City, delivering access without fear.

Anywhere But Here shines a spotlight on the undocumented, migrant and refugee workers who people the Americas – come and learn about the local ecology, and what is being done or could be done to better support the real issues and lives portrayed in Carmen Aguirre’s powerful story.

Access is limited to those with tickets to the production – available from $19.99 at

If you cannot afford a ticket to the show – please email us at and you can Pay-What-You-Can. You should still come.

6:15pm – 7:15pm – Sanctuary City Community Dialogue
7:30pm – 9:30pm – Performance, Anywhere But Here by Carmen Aguirre


Sanctuary City refers to municipal jurisdictions, typically in North America and Western Europe, that limit their cooperation with the national government’s effort to enforce immigration law. Leaders of sanctuary cities say they want to reduce fear of deportation and possible family break-up among people who are in the country illegally, so that such people will be more willing to report crimes, use health and social services, and enroll their children in school.

Originally started by religious groups in North America, providing shelter and sanctuary to immigrants, migrants and refugees, the Sanctuary City concept has become a secular movement across North America and Europe, with supportive policies being adopted by hundreds of municipalities, including the City of Vancouver in April of 2016 with the Access to City Services without Fear (ACSWF) for Residents with Uncertain or No Immigration Status policy.

Our panel will discuss Sanctuary Cities, Vancouver’s policy, how it has been working to date, real life stories and testimonials from our own community, and how Vancouver may become a better Sanctuary City, supporting access to services, bettering the lives of Residents with Uncertain or No Immigration Status.

Has this policy been fully adopted? Is it being evaluated?

Are departments in the city aligned to support Access to Services without Fear?

What is life in Vancouver actually like for real people with uncertain or no immigration status?

How do we better support the health and well being of all Vancouver residents and people in our city – documented, uncertain or otherwise?


Vancouver has the second highest concentration of Immigrants in Canada. Many Migrants to Vancouver arrive with temporary work permits that are tied to a single employer and place of employment; they are at risk of losing their status as a result of paperwork, employer misconduct, or breakdown of the employment relationship. Regardless of migrant status, accessing services and documentation as a migrant can be inaccessible, costly, time-consuming and dangerous. As a result, residents are often exploited by individuals, employers and systems that have access to these services.