Two Canadian Perspectives: What’s yours? 20/8/2008
Recently received an e-mail stressing one Canadian’s view on the current situation there in regard to recent arrivals there. It is added below for your perusal. Although addressed to Canadians, there is a lot in it that a lot of people in a lot of countries, could resonate with.
However I only passed it on to the few Canadians I know, for their response. So far only one has replied and it follows now:
“It's been a while since we have checked in. As it happens my work related to the main subject of the letter you forwarded to us yesterday. I work with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in our province helping churches that want to help refugees who come to Canada to settle. I can't say that I agree with the general sentiment of the letter. The refugees and immigrants that I have met in the last year or so that I have been doing this work are very grateful to be here and for the most part they are working hard to make the communities they live in a better place. They also understandably are concerned for the friends and families they have left behind in refugee camps and in war torn countries. That may seem like they don't care about the people in their new home, but I think they do.
Just today I had a meeting with a young man who came to Canada about 6 years ago from Colombia. Since arriving here, he has earned his Masters of Social Work and is working for our provincial government helping other immigrants settle. At the same time he is concerned about his mother who is still in Colombia and whom he would like to bring here to the relative safety of Canada.
I think what bothered me about this letter was it sound like the kind of thinking that was behind the xenophobic violence that we have recently heard about in South Africa. I hated to see that. I didn't want South Africa to be that way and I don't want Canada or any other country to be like that. I am proud of the fact that your country and my county are consistently second and third in the world in accepting refugees (behind the US). I think many Canadians share that feeling.
A couple of weeks ago in our church someone was talking about these sorts of issues and he coined a phrase which I hope catches on: xenophilia. He said that God is "xenophilic:" literally a lover of the stranger or the outsider. I think Christ called us to be xenophilic as well. Think of Matthew 25:35 "I was a stranger and you welcomed me." The question shouldn't be how grateful the stranger is, the question should be how welcoming we are.”
If you read both letters and at first glance, you might think both writers are miles apart in their views. I personally think that if you read both letters carefully and see that each writer is writing from the opposite side of the same pendulum, you will see that, like the pendulum, both are mainly concerned with the extremes of each swing and that both hold much in common. Canada, Australia, America, even South Africa, (Where I and My Canadian friend worked on similar lines although not together) have all both benefited and suffered from their immigrants. However as my friend above points out, mostly it has been beneficial to all countries and it has always only ever been a small minority that makes it difficult for the rest.
I believe that like my friend above, we have to help everyone who is genuine and willing to adapt to settle into his or her new country; whether that be Canada, Australia, America, South Africa or any of the roughly 240 nations in the world.
On the other hand I also concur with the letter writer below, that when people come to a new place, they have to accept and live by the rules of that place and not expect or demand to be treated differently. Yes some specific short term needs and goals may need to be provided, but even there that is a two way street.
As one married to a European immigrant and also as one who has lived for some time as an immigrant in South Africa, I have personally seen and experienced both sides of the equation. So today I humbly offer two pieces of advice.
Firstly to immigrants, remember you are a guest in your new country, so behave as one. And it has been my experience that if you do, it won’t be long before you will be accepted as “One of them” even if your skin color is totally opposite, like ours was where we were in SA.
Secondly to the Locals, please judge each immigrant individually and not collectively. If you do so, it will not be hard to pick out the few “rotten eggs". But please do not throw out all the “Good eggs” in the meantime. As the following Letter writer does rightly indicate, many, many countries and not just Canada, have benefited and benefited greatly from earlier generations of immigrants, whom I am also sure had their problems too.
So the combined message to all today is, give the other bloke a fair go and give him (Or Her) the chance to prove themselves first, before making any judgment let alone blanket judgments. Well again I have had my say, what say you?
(Original e-mail that inspired this “Blog”)
A Letter to the Editor (excellent letter).
So many letter writers have explained how this land is made up of immigrants. May be we should turn to our history books and point out to people why today's Canadian is not willing to accept the new kind of immigrant any longer.
Back in 1900 when there was a rush from all areas of Europe to come to Canada, people had to get off a ship and stand in a long line in Halifax and be documented. Some would even get down on their hands and knees and kiss the ground. They made a pledge to uphold the laws and support their new country in good and bad times. They made learning English a primary rule in their new Canadian households and some even changed their names to blend in with their new home.
They had waved good-bye to their birthplace to give their children a new life and did everything in their power to help their children assimilate into one culture.
Nothing was handed to them. No free lunches, no welfare, no labour laws to protect them. All they had were the skills, craftsmanship and desire they had brought with them to trade for a future of prosperity.
Most of their children came of age when World War II broke out.
Canadians fought alongside men whose parents had come straight over from Germany, Italy, France, Japan, Czechoslovakia, Russia, Sweden, Poland and so many other places. None of these first generation Canadians ever gave any thought about what country their parents
had come from. They were Canadians fighting Hitler, Mussolini and the Emperor of Japan. They were defending the Freedom as one people.
When we liberated France, no-one in those villages was looking for the Ukrainian-Canadian or the German-Canadian or the Irish-Canadian.
The people of France saw only Canadians.
And we carried one flag that represented our country. Not one of those immigrant sons would have thought about picking up another country's flag and waving it to represent who they were. It would have been a disgrace to their parents who had sacrificed so much to be here. These immigrants truly knew what it meant to be a Canadian. They stirred the melting pot into one red and white bowl.
And here we are in 2008 with a new kind of immigrant who wants the same rights and privileges. Only they want to achieve it by playing with a different set of rules, one that includes a Canadian passport and a guarantee of being faithful to their 'mother country'. I'm sorry, that's not what being a Canadian is all about. Canadians have been very open-hearted and open- minded regarding immigrants, whether they were fleeing poverty, dictatorship, persecution, or whatever else makes us think of those aforementioned immigrants who truly did ADOPT our country, and our flag and our morals and our customs.
And left their wars, hatred, and divisions behind. I believe that the immigrants who landed in Canada in the early 1900s deserve better than that for the toil, hard work and sacrifice those legally searching for a better life. I think they would be appalled that they are being used as an example by those waving foreign country flags, fighting foreign battles on our soil, making Canadians change to suit their religions and cultures, and wanting to change our countries fabric by claiming discrimination when we do not give in to their demands.
Its about time we get real and stand up for our forefathers rights, we are CANADIAN Lest we forget it!!! I am White Native of this Country & proud of it!
NO MORE POLITICAL CORRECTNESS
NO MORE not saying CHRISTMAS in stores and our schools,
Seasonal Holiday be dammed!!!