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.
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.
I am unwilling to shake off the horror of seeing Alan Kurdi lying face down on the beach. If it were just one child, just one death, the story would still be heartbreaking. But the outraged conversations across Canada have quickly expanded to include Canada's wider response to this terrible conflict.
My dear childrean: Alan and Galib are gone, their souls departed. But we have their footsteps to trace. These tiny tracks leave a legacy of love. A legacy of hope and possibility. For Alan and Galib are Love's Ambassadors. And so are we, my loves. So are we.
My family came here with only the belongings they could carry with them to give themselves and their children an opportunity to have a better life. Within one generation, I achieved a law degree. I have contributed, and continue to contribute, to the Canadian community. I am but one example of thousands, evidence that should easily persuade you to conclude that assistance to refugees is a solid investment in the future of our nation, and not simply an act of charity.
The Kurdis story has highlighted a systemic problem with our private sponsorship regime. The gaps in our immigration regime must be addressed so that families like the Kurdis are not faced with the unfathomable decision of placing their child at great risk in order to save his life.
This will move you to tears.
I am a first generation Canadian, the son of a refugee, taken in by Canada and given the chance at a better life. It is a testament to my father's success that I grew up in privilege and comfort. I don't know what it is like to have nothing. By any standard, I am blessed. There are no simple answers to the migrant crisis unfolding in many corners of the world. But at its root this is an economic problem. People living in poverty want a better life. They want my life, the life I enjoy because Canada let my father in as a refugee 60 years ago.
My family did not face the choices Alan Kurdi's family faced. My story had a different ending, a happy ending. It did because the government of Canada responded to a humanitarian crisis by putting human beings -- and their need for shelter and safety and comfort -- above everything else.
It's something the majority of Canadians intuitively feel: politics and politicians no longer seem like a channel for change or action, and so we tune them out. People and even partisans are disconnected from purpose beyond the election cycle. But in an election framed on change, maybe there's an opportunity here to reconnect politics and purpose.