Tinariwen, one of the groups stopped at the border on the way to the Vancouver Folk Music Festival
As the 34th Annual Vancouver Folk Music Festival came to a close on Sunday, tales of troubles at the Canadian border became a common theme.
By the end of this year’s Festival, some members of the musical groups Tinariwen (from Mali), Morgan O’Kane (from New York/Virginia), and Ricardo Lemvo (from Congo/Cuba) were denied entry visas to perform at the Festival. The reasons for denial ranged from past minor criminal convictions, some more than 15 years old, to, in the case of Tinariwen, security related concerns. These denials were part of a trend noticed by music event producers across the country over the past few years. The Canadian border, viewed as too porous by some in government, is now turning into a great big wall.
What surprised Folk Festival organizers most is that these groups had all been granted visas to perform in Canada in the past few years. Festival organizers are now urging Festival goers to write to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
Why the change now?