Soldiers help with asylum seekers in Quebec
SAINT-BERNARD-DE-LACOLLE, QUE. — Teams of Canadian soldiers stretched canvas across the metal frames of tents at a camp site near the Quebec-U.S. border on Wednesday as they helped fellow authorities cope with the crush of asylum seekers crossing into Canada.
The site, located on a flat stretch of grass behind the building where asylum claimants are bused in from the border, was expected to accommodate up to 500 people.
“We have about 100 personnel here on the ground who will set up 25 tents in order to house approximately 500 people,” Maj. Yves Desbiens said in Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle.
“We’re going to set up lighting as well, and heating and we’re going to have flooring installed.”
The soldiers will have no role in security matters and will not participate in law-enforcement tasks. All but a few will return to their home base once the site is finished.
Earlier in the day, in nearby Hemmingford, some 40 asylum seekers sat under white tents at an impromptu reception centre that has sprung up on the Canadian side of a popular illegal border crossing.
The atmosphere appeared relaxed as border crossers lined up for lunch boxes handed out by the RCMP and waited to board buses for the 10-minute drive to the Lacolle processing station.