There are few political issues that my mother and I can agree on. She is a liberal/fiscally conservative former Joe Clark voter who thinks Mulcair has scary eyes. I am a fairly left-wing urbanist who moved to Denmark to see Scandinavian socialism in action (it’s great Canadians have no idea what we’re missing out on). There is one thing we can agree on one hundred percent: Canada has failed during the current refugee crisis. We have failed horribly and utterly. It is heart breaking and stupid.
Canadians in particular should know the value of immigrants and refugees. We are nation of mutts and immigrants. For one reason or another everyone came here from somewhere else (or they’re a first nation or both). We can trace our heritage to where we came from and some of us know why our ancestors left. I have a friend whose parents left Hong Kong before it went back over to China. Another friend’s family came here after WWII because they were Dutch and had been kicked out of Indonesia. On my mother’s side the first Ukrainian came over a few years before the outbreak of WWI. He knew it would be ugly and he wanted to escape. Today the war in Ukraine makes me think of him and his choice.
More generally we benefit from all these immigrants. We took in 60,000 boat people during the war in Vietnam — I use that term because it was used in a CBC series about the children of the boat people that I listened to recently. I have been friends with some of their children and am ever grateful for their contribution to our country whenever I go to one of the numerous Vietnamese restaurants in Calgary. We also have lots great Lebanese food we get to eat because we took in Lebanese refugees during the conflict there. Their contributions are greater than the food we now get and spread to all areas of our society. It’s especially easy to see all the different foods that meld together in our society.
As this quote by an Icelandic pro-refugee group says, “Refugees are our future spouses, best friends, our next soul mate, the drummer in our children’s band, our next colleague, Miss Iceland 2022, the carpenter who finally fixes our bathroom, the chef in the cafeteria, the fireman, the hacker and the television host. People who we’ll never be able to say to: ‘Your life is worth less than mine.'”
I have known several Syrians and am saddened by each one we could have saved but didn’t. I had a Syrian roommate who was gregarious and always laughing. He was an engineer. We should consider ourselves lucky that people want to come to Canada and that we have a safe and prosperous society. In the past Canada has also turned it’s back to those who needed to flee. We could’ve taken in many more Jewish refugees before WWII but didn’t. Many died because Canadians were too selfish to care about saving them. One of my sister’s friends from high school married a Syrian and had trouble getting him into Canada even though he had the right to come as her husband. That says nothing of his family who are at risk of dying in the conflict.
We can drop all the bombs we want on ISIS but they will do little to help those who need it the most. Stamps and visas are what is needed. Not bombs.