Canadians must respond to Syrian crisis

Accept 10,000 refugees in next two years

Refugee Aurelia Achor has sponsored 29 others. Dennis Gruending photo

Canadians are being urged to respond to Syria’s humanitarian crisis by accepting at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next two years. In one event calling attention to the issue, a group called The Coalition in Ottawa for Refugees recently held a noon-hour rally at the human rights monument adjacent to city hall. Organizers handed out buttons supporting refugee sponsorship and tags saying “I’ve sponsored, ask me.”

The group heard from Aurelia Achor, who came to Canada as a refugee from South Sudan in 1990. She has sponsored 29 refugees on her own since then and she says they are not just Sudanese but have come from many countries. “I have eight children of my own,” she said, “so if I can sponsor refugees, then all of you can do it. Go home and think about it when you are eating your next meal. You can’t sponsor all refugees but you help who you can.”

Rev. Feras Chamas is a Syrian who arrived in Canada eight months ago. He is now serving as a Presbyterian minister in Morrisburg, a town in Eastern Ontario. Rev. Chamas said there are now nearly three million Syrian refugees in the neighbouring countries of Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon.

“These people have done nothing wrong to deserve this. People in the camps are waiting for our help. We can try to distance ourselves but the minute we get close to them and hear their story it appeals to us on moral and ethical grounds. We cannot wash our hands of this.”

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Doctors battle Ottawa on refugee health cuts

Changes cause "mass confusion"

Dr. Doug Gruner, Canadian Doctors for Refugee Health Care, Dennis Gruending photo

Doug Gruner is a doctor at the Bruyère Family Medicine Centre in Ottawa and a member of Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care. He says that the Harper …

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Ottawa’s bogus claims about refugees

Government attacks the most vulnerable

Shopkeeper in Aleppo, Syria in 2010, prior to a cruel civil war. Dennis Gruending photo
In 2010, I visited Syria with my family and we found the people there to be friendly and gracious. But a cruel civil war has now forced an estimated two million Syrians to seek refuge in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt and even Iraq, neighbouring countries ill-equipped for such a surge. The UN has pleaded with countries, such as Canada, to provide a home for at least some of those displaced people. Sweden agreed to accept 15,000, Germany 5,000, the U.S. 2000, and in July 2013 Canada agreed to accept 1,300. In March 2014, however, the Toronto Star reported that only about 10 government-sponsored refugees had managed to enter Canada the previous year.

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Revamping the carbon economy

Greening, alone, will not stop climate change

Greening is not enough, Creative Commons image
I have participated in numerous discussions about climate change and usually they veer off into talking about recycling, composting or church greening. But those efforts, while personally commendable, are completely inadequate.
“The key …

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Continuing to discuss climate change

It’s real. We caused it. But what do we do now?

IPCC scientists say climate change is real, Polaris Institute image
Early in April, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its fourth – and most urgent – report on …

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George Tomita’s marriage ministry at age 92

He calls couples on their anniversary



George and Amy Tomita. He calls each of 170 couples that he married on the day before their anniversary

Our telephone rang early one morning a couple of years ago. “Hello, this is George Tomita calling. You have a …

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Nonviolence, spirituality and social transformation

A conversation at Saint Paul University

Heather Eaton, conflict studies professor at Saint Paul University. Photo courtesy of SPU

Heather Eaton says that Canadians have much to learn about nonviolence and its effect on social change. Eaton, a …

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Flying with Gordie Howe

How I met my childhood idol

Gordie Howe was my childhood idol , Creative Commons photo

Gordie Howe will soon  turn 86. The man called Mr. Hockey was born into a poor family near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 1928. I idolized him when I was a boy and wanted desperately to play professional hockey one day. When, as an adult, I finally encountered Gordie back in 1994, I was pretty well tongue tied.

It was early March and minus 30 degrees in Regina, Saskatchewan. The prairies had endured a two-month deep freeze. I was awakened in my hotel room that Saturday morning by the growling sound of car motors turning over slowly, then dying, and the distinctive crunch that tires make on snow when it is that cold. Later, at the airport terminal, I learned that my flight to Edmonton was delayed so I half-heartedly turned to reading a newspaper.

When I looked across the small waiting room, I noticed a slope-shouldered man leaning against the wall. Big, but not bulky, he was perhaps 60 years old, with deep lines in his tanned face and thinning grey hair. He was dressed casually in a pair of beige cotton twill pants and he wore a dark blue sweatshirt over a white turtleneck. He squinted at the clock across the room and blinked several times in quick succession. There was something about him which was familiar.

The next time I looked up, he was being approached by a stout woman in a bright red coat. She offered him a writing pad and a pen, blushing robustly as she did so. He took the pen, signed deliberately and handed the autographed page back with a slight smile which brought an even brighter flush to her face.

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