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African community group says Canada's new travel rules are an example of racism

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EDMONTON — The president of the African Community Association of Calgary says its members feel hurt and believe it's important for the federal government to address what they say is subtle racism behind Canada's new travel rules.

Michael Embaie is also a part-time professor in the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Social Work and has worked as a consultant on immigration for the United Nations and the federal government.

He says he appreciates Canada's effort to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and to limit the spread of the new Omicron variant.

But the federal government needs to explain why some rules are being enforced with a different measuring stick for African countries.

Canadians travelling from one of 10 African countries, including South Africa and Egypt, are required to obtain a COVID-19 test in the country they're travelling from, obtain a second test while in transit and get a third after arrival in Canada before quarantining.

Ottawa initially announced a ban preventing foreign nationals in the region from travelling into Canada, but it quickly amended those rules so stranded Canadians could return home.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra has said the government exempted the United States from the initial ban because it was testing travellers departing the country and had few cases of the new variant.

Embaie says South Africa was also testing, and refusal to accept the results of the country's tests is one example of how racism is present in politics.

The Canadian Press