TORONTO – A leading Canadian national guiding group has cancelled its annual trip to California over concerns that some of its members may be refused entry at the southern border, as President Donald Trump’s new US travel ban comes into effect on Thursday.
“We just want to make sure that no girl gets left behind,” Sarah Kiriliuks, the spokeswoman of the Girl Guides of Canada, told The Independent.
The decision, according to Kiriliuks, was a result of the organization’s “commitment to inclusivity.”
Under the new US travel ban, all nationals from Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen will not be permitted to enter the US or be issued an immigrant or non-immigrant visa for a 90-day period.
Yet, Kiriliuks said the decision was “absolutely not” political but instead an operational decision made over a “general uncertainty” around Canada-US border travel.
“While the United States is a frequent destination for Guiding trips, the ability of all our members to equally enter this country is currently uncertain,” the GGC said on its website.
“This was a very difficult decision to make. We hope that members will appreciate this reflects our commitment to inclusivity and equal opportunities for all girls and women.”
GGC was founded on May 1, 1910, and was among the founding members of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) in 1928.
The Girl Guides of Canada has chapters in provinces across the country, with some 70,000 members and 20,000 adult female volunteers.
The GGC’s nationally-sponsored trip to a California camp that was scheduled for this summer will be relocated outside US.
The association has also encouraged its local leaders to consider domestic trips inside Canada instead of heading south of the border.
Kiriliuks said that any US visits already booked and paid for by regional Girl Guide chapters prior to the announcement would be reviewed on a “case-by-case” basis.
“Girl Guides is a microcosm of Canada,” she said.
“We’re diverse, we’re multicultural. I don’t want to speak to any one girl or situation, our main priority was making sure our girls who had been planning trips for up to a year sometimes weren’t going to be turned away at the border because of one or more situations that were beyond their control.”