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Feeling Proud to be Canadian

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The first Syrian refugees arrived in Toronto Thursday evening and our new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was at the airport to greet them. In shirt sleeves. Low key and kind.

"You are home," he said. Simple, moving.

One of those joining us didn't even realize he was the PM. (Hasn't she seen the media promo of the Vogue story upcoming? Sophie stunning in her Oscar de la Renta? Guess not, and not so surprising, in our new Canadian's prior circumstances: a refugee camp in Lebanon). However, she was quoted as saying that had she known, she'd have given Trudeau a "big hug". And yup, she would probably have had to take a number . . . .

At the local Staples where I was shopping for items on my Christmas gifts list yesterday, the young woman at the cash register was wearing a pretty lace-trimmed hijab. There was a long, long lineup; I did not hear or see one flicker of anything other than Canadian courtesy and cordiality from any of the customers.

OK, I'm not naive. I know that there will be problems and difficulties with 25,000 Syrian refugees (some government sponsored, some privately sponsored) who are joining us between now and February. It's entirely predictable. There were a few (minor) problems with the influx of American draft dodgers in the 60s. There were a few (minor) problems with Vietnamese boat people. And every other influx of immigrants and refugees going back to the very beginnings -- almost all of whom are now very solid Canadian citizens of great multicultural and ethnic diversity.

I know not all Canadians agree with this Syrian refugee initiative. I know that there are Canadian "trolls" who'll express themselves with vituperation on-line behind the shield of anonymity, and that some hijab-wearing women in Canada have experienced overt discrimination. After Paris, a mosque was torched in a small Ontario city: shameful. However, the amount required to rebuild it was donated within 48 hours by local people and a huge surplus beyond that given in turn to other charitable needs.

But: welcoming Syrian refugees is still the right thing to do. The vast majority of Canadians agree. Prime Minister Trudeau is appealing to our "better angels" and his "approval rating" has soared even above the polling after his October election victory . . .

It's a good time of the year for the better angels to come forward, truly.

There was no room for them at the inn? There's room here.

And what a universal appeal that Bethlehem story has: transcending religions and centuries.

It does speak to what's most deeply human in all of us.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Depending on what happens here in the next year, I may find I need to emigrate to Canada.
    1623 days ago
    You are fortunate that your trolls in Canada are few and far between. Our American trolls are running for president.

    1627 days ago
    INDEED! Justin Trudeau's leadership (and NOT just in his response to the refugees) is bringing a New Day and it looks dang inviting!

    President Obama has articulated a similar position, but I'm so ashamed of the USA's expressions of xenophobia and bigotry that get so much air time and media attention. SURELY it doesn't represent the majority?

    Ellen, I think you will appreciate this statement from FDR's granddaughter:

    Roosevelt Board Chair and FDR Granddaughter Anne Roosevelt released the following statement in reaction to Donald Trump’s Use of WWII Internment to Defend His Intolerant and Divisive Agenda:

    “For Donald Trump to cite my grandfather and internment as a defense of his own intolerant and divisive agenda is reprehensible. The internment of thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II is a sad part of our history and, as a part of my grandfather’s administration, a terrible political decision driven by fear. Japanese Americans, who were loyal citizens and who served bravely in the U.S. military, were scarred not only by the physical deprivation of internment but by the denial of the dignity and respect of their own country. As a nation, internment weakened us all. It is a tragic reminder of what happens when we allow fear and hysteria to trump our values.

    “Historians and leaders across the political spectrum agree internment was a grievous mistake and a violation of basic human rights. It detracts from the amazing efforts by my grandfather to rescue our economy and build the foundation of America's great middle class. My grandmother, Eleanor, spoke out publicly against the policy immediately and during its implementation. Internment was wrong then and any effort to discriminate against a group of people based on their race or religion is wrong today.”
    1627 days ago

    Comment edited on: 12/14/2015 7:36:01 PM
    Our leaders could certainly learn from your country's example. Thank you to your prime minister and lovely angels willing to help. Good bless. ..
    1627 days ago
    You deserve to be very proud of your country and its leadership.

    We have trolls too, but sadly some are running for office and have quite a large following. The politics of fear and hatred will always find supporters. I just never thought there would be so many.
    1627 days ago
    You should be proud :)
    1627 days ago
    1628 days ago
  • NANCY-
    You are much more than Canadian. You are part of our global village. May your and PM Trudeau spirit be infectious.
    1628 days ago
  • _LINDA
    Beautifully written!!!
    1628 days ago
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    1628 days ago
    You rock!
    Proud to be your neighbor!
    1628 days ago
    Great commentary, as usual! As a fellow Canadian, my only concern is Why only 25,000? It seems like such a drop in the bucket! And Canada is a country of 10 million square kilometers, with one of the lowest population densities in the world.... We have room for more!
    1628 days ago
    We are responsible for more than just our own "little piece of real estate" -- we live in a world community and have to live as such.

    I think all of us have ancestors who came as immigrants from one place or another. It makes our culture rich and vibrant, in my opinion.

    I think it speaks volumes that the PM was there to greet these refugees. That would make me proud to be Canadian as well.
    1628 days ago
    Love your blog! You Canadians have something to be proud of! Happy Sunday! Wishing you a Nice and Relaxing Day!
    Hugs and love, xoxo
    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1628 days ago
    I've been so impressed with Mr. Trudeau, and this is another example of his leadership, compassion, and intelligence.

    You have reason to be proud of your country!

    (As opposed to the current mass hysteria and insanity in ours......)
    1628 days ago
    Very moving. Thank you for your presence.
    1628 days ago

    Turning away or refusing refugees, who are only trying to escape the violence of their homeland, plays into the hands of terrorists, giving them desperate people from whom to recruit their next generation.

    Extending help and kindness to them undermines the message of those who want to spread hate, *besides* being truer to the nature of the kind and civilized people that is our highest nature as humans... whatever our faith, there is a version of "the golden rule". If our situations were reversed... how would we want to be treated?

    emoticon and emoticon emoticon

    (We can learn a thing or two from our neighbors to the North).
    1628 days ago

    Comment edited on: 12/13/2015 12:11:33 PM
    1628 days ago
  • GABY1948
    I have always imagined you are REALLY proud to be Canadian! I would too...GREAT country for sure! emoticon
    1628 days ago
    I am glad your country is showing such leadership.
    1628 days ago
    love it - you canadians have something to be proud of! no room at the inn, indeed! hooray for better angels!
    1628 days ago
    Beautifully put, as always! Refugees are trying to escape the tyranny and the ugliness of their countries, not bring that to our countries. I love a "real" person in politics and religion.... This is why I like the new pope so much! Shirt sleeves.... Welcoming.... Open....
    1628 days ago
  • no profile photo RBOBBO
    no worries. I'm in Germany experiencing the full Syrian flood and its... Totally fine, really. Not a big deal. Nice to see new folks around. Politicians will have their hootenannies, and demagogues will have their hysteria, but there's totally room.
    1629 days ago
    I love this blog. You should be proud to be Canadian.
    1629 days ago
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