Over the past few weeks I have felt an incredibly wide range of emotions when reading what has appeared on many of my friends’ FaceBook profiles concerning the Syrian refugees coming to Canada. At times I have been enraged, angered, saddened , disappointed and amazed by the memes, comments and articles posted. Fortunately the rage and anger, never productive emotions, are short-lived and most often give way to sadness, disappointment and amazement. I believe amazement has been the most prevalent emotion – amazement at how little I really know many of the people that I have worked, played, eaten, celebrated and grieved with over the past sixty-nine years.
Disappointment comes a close second. Disappointment that many have forgotten the stories of their own families’ arrival in Canada: the adversity that they had experienced in their homelands; the dangers they faced in their journey to their new homeland; and the welcome and help they received. To then see these friends hide behind the sanctimonious excuse that “we should look after our own homeless first” only adds further disappointment. Where would they be now if that had been the cant at the end of the Second World War, during the Hungarian Revolution, the expulsion of the Jews from Poland, the wars in Lebanon and Vietnam, the political oppression in Eastern Europe, Spain, Portugal, Haiti and many parts of Africa? Where would they be if their families had been turned away because “we have to look after our own first”?
I am fortunate that my own family’s story is a fairly uneventful one but I’d like to share a story from a gentleman who knows the refugee experience. Artur Wilczynski is currently our Ambassador to Norway but the path that has brought him there is a story worth telling and worth reading:
Finally I am sadden when I realize there is no point in arguing with many of these friends; that even stories such as Artur’s will not change their minds. Those memes, comments and links reflect how they honestly feel about refugees coming to Canada. And whither I like or agree with those thoughts they are free to have and state them. That is one of the reasons their families came to Canada!
On this day in 1940: In Romania, the ruling Iron Guard fascist party assassinates over 60 of arrested King Carol II’s aides and other political dissidents.