Asylum seekers at Canada’s border, the push and the pull

As the U.S. closes its border to asylum seekers, they are braving the cold to cross into Canada
Canadian Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen

Television news has recently provided images of asylum seekers walking across frigid Canadian border crossings in Manitoba and Quebec. Incredibly, many of the people trudging through the snow are from African countries, such as Somalia and Sudan. Their journey most likely began with a flight from Africa to Brazil, followed by a dangerous ground passage through several South and Central American countries, as well as Mexico and — finally — the U.S. And they had to have been desperate for safety to risk their lives on such a perilous voyage. Continue reading Asylum seekers at Canada’s border, the push and the pull

Dr. Doug Gruner, warm welcome is key to refugee integration

Dr. Doug Gruner says warm welcome is key to refugee integration
Dr. Doug Gruner, warm welcome is key to refugee integration

Dr. Doug Gruner says that a welcoming approach toward refugees is a key to their successful integration into Canadian life, and access to healthcare is vital to the process.

Gruner practices at the Bruyère Family Medicine Centre in Ottawa. He spoke recently to a class at the Ottawa School of Theology and Spirituality (OSTS). “Once we make a decision to accept refugees,” he said, “it is our responsibility to provide them with health care.” Continue reading Dr. Doug Gruner, warm welcome is key to refugee integration

‘Globalization of indifference’, ignoring the world’s refugee crisis

 

There are 65 million forcibly displaced people in the world. What are we doing about it?
Photo by Mstyslav Chernov/Wikimedia Commons

The world still faces a massive crisis over forcibly displaced people. In 2015, there were more than 65 million — the most since the Second World War. And half were under the age of 18. About 24 million of these people have fled their countries and are counted by the United Nations as refugees. A much larger number, 41 million, are internally displaced, forced to flee their homes but remain within the borders of their countries. In Syria, for example, 6.6 million people are internally displaced, which represents 30 percent of the population. Continue reading ‘Globalization of indifference’, ignoring the world’s refugee crisis

Welcoming Syrian refugees to Canada, we cannot turn away

Canadians cannot turn away. We must accept Syrian refugees
Syrian refugees disembark in Greece, UNHCR photo

It is heartening to see Canadians rallying to welcome Syrian refugees but before we congratulate ourselves too heartily we should acknowledge that our contributions are modest and the need is great.  In the 2015 election campaign, the Liberals rashly promised to provide for 25,000 government-sponsored refugees by December 31, 2015. Immigration Minister John McCallum has now announced that this deadline cannot be met and it has been moved back. That is sensible but it also represents a sleight of hand.  Continue reading Welcoming Syrian refugees to Canada, we cannot turn away

Justin Trudeau’s ‘sunny ways’ and the challenges ahead

Justin Trudeau’s “sunny ways”. Photo by Wikimedia Commons, Alex Guibord
Justin Trudeau’s “sunny ways”. Photo by Wikimedia Commons, Alex Guibord

As Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau stood before an election night crowd in Montreal on October 19, he quoted former Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier, saying: “Sunny ways my friends, sunny ways.”  Referring to his Liberal party’s convincing upset victory in capturing 184 seats, well beyond the 99 for the Conservatives and 44 for the NDP, Trudeau said, “This is what positive politics can do.” Continue reading Justin Trudeau’s ‘sunny ways’ and the challenges ahead

Racism in the Canadian election, suppressing our better angels

Syrian refugees cross from Hungary into Austria on their way to Germany in September 2015. Photo by Mstyslav Chernov/Wikimedia Commons
Syrian refugees cross from Hungary into Austria on their way to Germany in September 2015. Photo by Mstyslav Chernov/Wikimedia Commons

The main issue in the Canadian election was supposed to be who could best manage the economy. Prime Minister Stephen Harper claims that it’s he, and warns that other political parties will run deficits and raise taxes. Of course, Harper ran six deficits in a row. Apparently, he runs good deficits but it would be irresponsible for others to do the same. Continue reading Racism in the Canadian election, suppressing our better angels

Syrian refugee crisis, what you can do to help

Syrian Refugees at Budapest's Keleti railway station. Photo by Mstyslav ChernovWikimedia Commons
Syrian Refugees at Budapest’s Keleti railway station. Photo by Mstyslav ChernovWikimedia Commons

The Syrian refugee crisis has inserted itself into the hearts and minds of Canadians — those aghast at watching bedraggled people streaming into Europe, carrying their children and everything they own on their backs. And they are the survivors. Thousands of others have died at sea when their overburdened boats capsized. Continue reading Syrian refugee crisis, what you can do to help

Years of scapegoating refugees haunts Harper Conservatives

Syrian refugees entering Turkey, UNHCR/I.Prickett
Syrian refugees entering Turkey, UNHCR/I.Prickett

Stephen Harper and the Conservatives have spent years scapegoating refugees and it is coming back to haunt them in the 2015 election campaign. The Conservatives’ messaging has been derailed by the sight of hundreds of thousands of refugees streaming into Europe, and by the images of the lifeless body of three-year-old Alan Kurdi being carried from a beach in Turkey. There is a widespread call within Canada for action. Continue reading Years of scapegoating refugees haunts Harper Conservatives