Sanctuary City Principles


Our cities are comprised of people of all migration statuses who contribute to community. Limiting access to services based on migration status creates a fundamentally unjust system in which sections of our community are excluded, exploited, and denied access to their basic human rights.

Increasingly exclusionary immigration policies have been introduced creating a state of fear. People are being denied access to basic services such as health care and are left vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. People are being treated as disposable economic commodities rather than human beings.

Honouring the land and actions of the First Nations that have lived on this land since time immemorial, we want to build communities that are in solidarity with Indigenous land defenders on Turtle Island and with global movements against dispossession. As part of the growing Sanctuary and Solidarity City movements across North America/Turtle Island we seek to collaborate with communities and service providers to create safer access to services for all people based on need rather than status.

The Principles

As we move toward Greater Vancouver becoming a Sanctuary City, we are asking that service providers and municipal governments incorporate the following principles into their service provision:

1) Access to basic and essential services will be determined by need and not migration status

Services such as education, health services, food security, dignified housing, public transit, public safety, legal aid, and municipal services are meant for everyone regardless of status. This means:

  • Not asking for proof of citizenship or information regarding immigration status when people are accessing services
  • In circumstances when identification is required, service providers will accept other forms of identification, including but not limited to: letters of reference/support, municipal ID, expired ID
  • Apply human and labour rights equally to all people regardless of migration status, and value people based upon their humanity

2) Access without fear

The fear of debt, deportation, and/or death should not limit people’s access to services. We recognize that the responsibility of enforcing immigration law falls onto Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) alone, and is NOT the responsibility of service providers, health care workers, other police agencies, transit security nor the municipal government. As such service providers will:

  • Treat all information regarding other peoples’ immigration status as strictly confidential, and never share it with CBSA or IRCC
  • Create and ensure CBSA free zones, where public spaces such as hospitals, clinics, schools, parks, community centers, neighborhood houses, settlement services, food banks, libraries, shelters, construction sites, city hall and public transit are zones where CBSA are not called, welcomed, or allowed entry
  • Ensure that municipal and public resources will not be used to support CBSA investigations or activities
Workplaces, service providers and community and faith-based groups can endorse our principles and commit to working towards them. Endorsements can be sent to