Canada Gives Syrian Refugees a Warm Welcome Worthy of its Name

by harryreardon –

syrian refugees canada

Living up to its reputation as the kindly neighbor to the North, Canada is leaps and bounds ahead of the United States in terms of fulfilling its humanitarian responsibilities in accept Syrian refugees.

Canada is preparing to welcome around 25,000 Syrian refugees over the next few months. The current Liberal government made an issue of hosting the refugees in the recent election.

But the Canadian government is not alone in its efforts. Ordinary Canadians are offering what help they can to their new neighbors. Anti-immigrant and Islamophoic rhetoric has breached Canada’s borders. But this is not preventing able-bodied and nimble fingered citizens from making the new arrivals feel welcome.

Citizens across the country have signed up to knit a wooly winter hat for every new person arriving in the country this winter. That is 25,000 new hats, one for every incoming Syrian refugee.

The idea itself is beautiful. Babies born in Quebec are given knitted hats to wear when they leave the hospital. The hat represents a gift that welcomes the child to the world on behalf of the citizens of Quebec.

The same idea applies to the hats for the Syrian refugees.

Stories like this give real hope to those who are afraid that the fear-mongering produced by the media may be a reflection of reality. Listening to mainstream media alone would suggest that the world is a terrifying place. It would also suggest that many people believe that those who are suffering should pass a test or be tracked to receive the compassion of the rest of the world.

This notion, of course, is preposterous. But it has been suggested by those with media star power and those with real political power.

Thankfully, the Canadian Council for Refugees is on hand to remind the world that just as extremists make up only the tiniest portion of all Muslims, those who hate out of fear and ignorance do not make up the majority of the world either.

There are problems, even in Canada. Conservative politicians in Canada and around the world have questioned the national security implications of humanitarianism. For the sake of democracy, it is imperative that these questions be allowed to be raised. Both sides of the argument must be examined.

But for the sake of humanity, reason and compassion must prevail over politics and fear.

Reflecting on the recent death of scholar Benedict Anderson, it is important to remember that the communities that the world divides itself into are imagined. A person might be American, Canadian, French, British or Syrian. This should never detract from the notion that all people are of the same organic materials. Their communities

Despite perceived cultural differences, a level of understanding can be fostered by acknowledging that everyone is human.  As humans, the global population is a part of one big community.

Canada has accepted this in its acceptance of refugees. As a result, Canada stands proudly, as a beacon of light and a real model of a tolerant and peaceful society. Both America and Europe should be taking notes.


Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos