In South Sudan, domestic violence is widespread and largely tolerated. In the all-too-common words of two young women from Warrap State: "We are often beaten. When we make a mistake, we are beaten -- and there are so many mistakes." It was unfortunately not surprising that gender-based violence was a major threat for women living in IDP and refugee camps.
I know the uncertainty and pain of saying goodbye, not knowing when or if you will ever see your home and friends again. But I don't know what it feels like to flee with just the clothes on your back and a small bag of essentials. As hard as moving is, it is nothing compared to the trauma and constant upheaval of living as a refugee.
I spent over a week in Jordan at the beginning of January, with the Syrian American Medical Society visiting non-profit clinics in Jordan where the Syrian refugees were populated and went into the camp to work in their Medical Centre. I did not know what to expect going into the camp, now termed the fifth largest city in Jordan.
I am sorry to say that no one can promise that you will not face discrimination again as you re-establish yourself in this country. But I know that there will be many of us that will stand with you when it happens. You will be among those fighting to ensure our handling of this humanitarian crisis does not seed future shame and add to the list of times that fear and intolerance guided our actions.
What is also clear is that the arrival of these refugee families is not the end of the process, but merely the end of the beginning. With the kindness and compassion present in so many Ontario communities large and small, it is clear that these new Syrian families will receive a warm welcome and be supported as they make a new start in this vast and diverse country.
The ratio of working-age Canadians to seniors was narrowing, and the inevitable outcome would be a shrunken tax base and acute labour shortages. Over the next decade, a million jobs risk going unfilled. And yet, only around one in 10 Canadians agrees that Canada currently admits too few immigrants. The annual (and sometimes multi-year) public consultations held by the Federal Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration on levels of newcomers do not seem to have yielded much success in changing this attitude.
For the past two weeks of school vacation, many Canadian children have enjoyed lingering in bed in the mornings, snuggled under the covers. But for children forced from their homes by violence in Syria and Iraq, warm blankets are more than a holiday luxury. On some mornings, it's just too cold to leave their beds.
Due to the heated political atmosphere from which the initial promise emerged, with Trudeau's Liberals keen to position themselves in stark contrast to Harper's Conservatives, I feel that the massive attention this has garnered from both sides -- both of acclaim and censure -- has been greatly exaggerated. With all the rhetoric from proponents and opponents, we forget that this is a simple act of charity.