An Open Letter to Potential Refugees

Dear Refugee:

I am one of the Canadians who is not supporting our new Prime Minister’s promise to bring you and thousands of others like you here to relocate.

There is a good chance I’m going to lose some friends over this. Fact is, if anything I say here comes as a surprise, they didn’t know me very well. But please, hear me out.

This does not make me a bad person. This does not mean I don’t care. And it does not make me racist.

It does, however, mean that I will protect my family and my friends, my safety and my way of life before I will blindly accept you on your word. The fact of the matter is, I don’t know you. You have an incredible story. It’s very likely a lot worse than you’ve been able to express. And I don’t for a minute pretend to understand what you’ve been through.

But I do understand enough to know that I cannot let you bring danger with you.

Chances are, you have a great deal to offer Canada. You likely have skills and ideas to improve things here. You are probably capable of contributing to the compassion, culture, and success of our land. You will bring new opinions, traditions, and perspective. These are actually the ingredients that have made Canada the beautiful place it is!

But I don’t know that. I don’t know you. You can’t possibly just expect me to trust you. And that has nothing to do with who you are, where you’re from, or what deity you think created us all.

It does have something to do with the people who are chasing you from your home.

You see, if I were a bad guy, I’d make sure me and some other bad guys blended in with you and your families, and I’d wait for some caring, big-hearted country to let us in, and, well, really, it’d just be too easy. Things have changed in the 500+ years that immigrants have been joining this nation. Gone are the days when people arrived not knowing what a suicide bomber was. All it takes is one lone murderer, one who is convinced of his mission and is not afraid to die, to threaten the safety of innocent Canadians. That price is too high to pay. And I for one do not want to be sitting at the funeral of two hundred of my friends and family consoling myself with the fact that at least I didn’t hurt some poor refugees’ feelings by not trusting them.

Now, I’m not saying you can’t come here. On the contrary, like most Canadians, I’d like to do more to help those who do come find their way once they’re here.

What I am saying is, I’d like to see a better way to get you here. As our neighbours in Newfoundland reacted to hundreds of sudden visitors on 9-11, there are countless families in Canada who would be willing to help – to put their own money, not just their tax dollars where their mouths are – and our Government should encourage that. I’d like to see every family who supports this initiative sponsor a refugee family. Sponsorship should include lodging, within or close to the sponsor family’s home, provision of new and donated supplies, goods, and belongings, intensive guidance to help the new family find their way through our health and education systems, our employment and banking systems, even our grocery stores and garbage collection protocols. Sponsoring a refugee family should mean inclusion into Canadian culture – all facets of it: our food, our dress, transportation, entertainment. The sponsor must ensure that the new family understands Canadian manners and masters at least one of our official languages. And the sponsor should be completely and totally, 100% responsible for any negative impact their charge may have on our community.

Imagine coming to a country where you spend at least three years in close, protected, inclusive, and compassionate contact with a family who already knows what life in Canada really has to offer, and sponsors would enjoy untold tax breaks to help offset the expense of having a second family to support until they’re on their feet.

Of course, Canadians who are truly against this humanitarian immigration would not feel compelled to participate, but could rest easy knowing that those refugees who do arrive are making connections and building relationships with their Canadian sponsors, neighbours, and community in a positive and meaningful way. As we get to know each other, we build respect. And trust. And you become one of us, contributing everything good that you, your family, and your culture have to offer. Trust me, Canadians will always welcome a new food and another reason to celebrate!

The bottom line is, I’m afraid. I’m as afraid of the bad guys as you are. In some ways, I have more to lose. We enjoy a peace that you probably can’t imagine. One that I’d love to share with you. But to do that, we first have to protect it. And if we’re stupid about this whole process, you could very well be making the trip for nothing.

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3 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Potential Refugees

  1. Alex, winter is cold. The elderly, the disabled, the babies, the pregnant, the children — who stumbled and floundered on the sea — are suffering and many will die. Some other mother will, lying on her back, on a blanket from home, give birth in the freezing cold with no medical attention. But, you’re right, you don’t know her.

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    • No I don’t. I don’t know anyone for that matter.

      There is no quick fix to any of this – as callous as you seem to think me, I would contend that you are too trusting.

      Believe it or not, I hope I’m wrong. I hope we can save as many as we possibly can, and a few more. And I hope that they all settle in and find the hope and peace they so deserve.

      I hope you’re right. Because if it does turn out that the cautious are right, the suffering will hit a lot closer to home.

      More than a bandaid solution of relocating people who must be scared out of their
      skulls, we should be investing in helping them find longterm solutions to the problems they’re running from – from a Canadian perspective, however – this blowing everyone up doesn’t work either.

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  2. A comment from a reader who chose not to share here:
    “Alexandra’s Open Letter is wordy and self absorbed. Winter is cold. Elderly, babies, pregnant women, young children, the disabled — all who have stumbled and floundered on the sea— will suffer and die. No more need be said. Save them.”
    I think ‘self-absorbed’ may not be quite accurate. If it were just me, I’d be all in. But it’s my elderly mother, my friend’s grandbabies, my neighbour’s daughter, my kids’ friends, and my ‘disabled’ daughter I owe my protection to first. And I guess ‘wordy’ means too much to read – I offered what I believe to be an optimal process – feel free to sponsor a family/group. Who exactly are you expecting to ‘save them?’ Our government in its infinite wisdom and red tape? Or would they be better with, say, _your_ guidance and support? Please note that I did not say, ‘Send them away.’

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