"Politicians said after the death of my family: never again!''
Today, the world remembers a child who never had the chance to seize life at all. His name was Alan Kurdi. You'll recall him as the little Syrian boy who, was found dead on a beach in Turkey the morning of September 2, 2015. He had stepped into a crowded inflatable boat with his family the night before, in a desperate attempt to each Europe in safety. Alan's death rocked people everywhere -- from families in their homes to leaders in the halls of power. When children like Alan reached out for help, we didn't reach back.
An emergency relief fund has received less support than the feds expected.
"... to hurt us again, it's not fair."
“It takes something like that to … open the door to people who are not seeing that as part of their daily reality.”
I acknowledge that good, well-meaning people who genuinely care about Syrian refugees can have perfectly valid concerns about the security risk of bringing in tens of thousands of people from a war zone. It is as large an undertaking as it sounds. So, in light of Canadian political leaders playing on Canadians' concerns to spread fear and disinformation, I decided to research how Canada screens, accepts and settles Syrian refugees. It is my hope we can dispel fear and confusion with facts, reason and compassion.
I've been told that we care too much for the people of Paris. That our outpouring of sympathy ignores the fate of other countries, that we are too selective in our grief. We find it so easy to stand with our old ally, while places like Beirut and Nigeria burn. We are hypocrites for caring so much about France. But it's false.
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.
"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.
When I see the faces of Syrian children in the news these days, I think of my little brother. I remember the confusion and terror he felt on a very deep level -- even with a bed to sleep in, food to eat, and the comfort of his family. Not to mention the pink bunny with stripy pants, to which Graham clung in the dark while my mother calmed him at night.