US & Canada

Canadian Girl Guides cancel US travel ahead of ban

Tents for Girl Scouts to spend the night on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, June 30, 2015. Fifty Girl Scouts will spend the night on the White House lawn in camping tents as part of the 'Let's Move' campaign to fight childhood obesity and increase nutrition awareness. Image copyright SAUL LOEB
Image caption Girl Guides of Canada have cancelled all US trips for now.

Girl Guides of Canada has cancelled all trips to the United States until further notice because it fears problems at the border.

The announcement comes days before President Donald Trump's new US travel ban comes into effect on Thursday.

In a statement, the group said the "ability of all our members to equally enter this country is currently uncertain".

The suspension includes short trips and all travel through US airports.

The group has also scrapped a planned summer camping trip to California in favour of a different destination.

Sarah Kiriliuk, national manager of marketing and communications for the Girl Guides of Canada, said the decision was "absolutely not" political but instead an operational decision made over a "general uncertainty" around Canada-US border travel.

"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."

Under the new US travel ban, citizens from Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen will not be permitted to enter the US unless they have already been issued valid visas, for a 90-day period.

Some individuals from those countries are exempt from the order, including Green Card holders (legal permanent residents of the US) from the named countries and dual nationals travelling on a passport from a country not on the list.

Ms Kiriliuk could not say how many members might have been barred from US entry under the new temporary ban, if any.

"At Girl Guides of Canada, we know our members value the safe, inclusive and accepting space that Guiding provides," the statement said.

It went on: "These values are reflected in all we do, including the Girl Guide travel experiences we offer girls and women. 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."

The Girl Guides of Canada has chapters in provinces across the country and some 70,000 members and 20,000 adult female volunteers.

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, Ms Kiriliuk said.

Some Canadian schools have also cancelled trips to the US in the wake of the travel ban, including the Greater Essex County District School Board in south-western Ontario.

According to figures provided by US Customs and Border Protection, the number of people being denied entry at the Canada-US boundary is roughly in line with previous years.

But confusion during the first few days of the previous US travel ban, which was eventually blocked by a federal court, and a series of recent incidents of Canadians going public with their experience being turned away at the border has led to questions over whether people are facing tougher measures when entering the US.

Related Topics