Release from internment proceeded slowly. On February 18, 1941, eight refugees with parents or siblings in Canada were released. Eventually, schemes were devised whereby Canadian families could sponsor students, farmers could request internees to help them, and skilled workers could be released for war work.

F.C. Blair had the final authority on every release and often used his power to obstruct the process. The Canadian Committee for Interned Refugees fought a seemingly endless battle, cautiously but persistently widening the cracks in Blair’s formidable barriers. Just as Blair often predicted, each release became a precedent for his “Jewish friends” to squeeze more refugees into Canada “by hook or by crook.”

Over the next two years, approximately 950 refugees were released and permitted to remain in Canada temporarily. Their legal status was clouded by confusion and ambiguity. Not only were refugees constantly reminded that they could be re-interned and deported to Britain, but as temporary residents in Canada they were subject to likely repatriation back to Europe at the end of the war.
Paula Draper, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre

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