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Vigil held for detainee who died after being held at Laval immigration detention centre

Around 20 people gathered to light candles outside an immigration services office in downtown Montreal

Bill Van Driel helped organize the vigil and works with the group Solidarity Across Borders.

Bill Van Driel helped organize the vigil and works with the group Solidarity Across Borders.

Photo: Rowan Kennedy

RCI

Migrant advocates gathered in downtown Montreal on Sunday to hold a vigil for a detainee that died recently after being held at the immigration detention centre in Laval. 

Around 20 people gathered to light candles and chant for the end of immigrant detention outside the immigration services office on Saint-Antoine Street. 

The detainee, whose name is unknown, died after being found in medical distress at the holding centre on Dec. 28, the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) said in statement in the days following the death.

Staff on site provided CPR until paramedics arrived, but the person died in hospital a few hours later, the agency said at the time. 

Around 20 people gathered to light candles and chant for the end of immigrant detention.

Around 20 people gathered to light candles and chant for the end of immigrant detention.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Rowan Kennedy

No more information has been released about what happened, and Bill Van Driel said the lack of information is worrisome.

There's this feeling that people can just disappear like that and that nobody really has to answer for it, said Van Driel, who organized the vigil with the group Solidarity Across Borders. 

The CBSA said it would not identify the detainee for privacy reasons. Details from the agency about what led to the death also aren't expected to be released until investigations by the Sûreté du Québec and the coroners' office are completed. 

Florence Bernard, who also spoke at the vigil, said no one should die while in detention. 

She said she's concerned the person might have had their medical care delayed as a result of being held there. 

When someone becomes ill while also being held in detention, they often can't get their needs met as soon as needed, she said. 

CBC News with files from Rowan Kennedy

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