After living amid the Syrian refugee crisis in Turkey for a year after graduating from the University of Toronto, Nouhaila Chelkhaoui knew she wanted to help make a positive impact on the lives of newcomers. Her return to Toronto gave her the opportunity to do just that, as she joined U of T startup iamsick's newest initiative, which helps refugees navigate Canada's complex healthcare system.
Turkey held an election this past June and the AKP (remember, they've been in power since 2002) did not win a majority. Coalition talks were a bust, so a new election had to happen. It looked like Turkish voters were making a statement against Erdogan and his party in this election. But this time the AKP's I'm the strong man who can protect you message successfully swayed Turkish voters.
Those who were indifferent before the Paris attacks are now outspoken critics of Prime Minister Trudeau's commitment to accept 25,000 refugees and bring our CF-18's home. Some of the comments I have seen are downright vitriolic. It has been suggested to me by a number of people that we re-consider reminding people at this time that we're sponsoring a refugee family. It might be bad for business and could alienate more than a few friends. I find it incredibly sad that the current state of affairs is such that I have even faint concerns about a backlash for my desire to help those in need. I certainly won't let it deter me.
During the Canadian and Turkish election campaigns, leaders of the ruling parties hoped to benefit from a divided political opposition. At the front of each campaign, many voters in Canada and Turkey hoped for minority governments to fend majorities with leaders they mistrusted with too much authority.
"Where is Canada?" In Turkey and Jordan recently, this was the question we heard over and over, from Syrian refugees themselves, crisis intervention workers, medical professionals, human rights activists and others dedicated to helping Syrians.To friends and family, I referred to my time in the region as a tour of shame, as a Canadian. There was a clear perception among the people we spoke with that Canada preferred Christian asylum seekers, and this explained the delays and inaction. As the now-infamous photo of Alan Kurdi reminds us, there is an immediate need for Canada to show leadership in developing a concrete solution.