I am a resident of Williams Lake.
It is with great sorrow that I find myself writing this letter, as I wish it wasn’t necessary.
Recently, there has been much controversy and strife over the refugee crisis stemming from the Middle East. I have lived in Canada my whole life, for 21 years, however, in all that time, I have never seen a single issue bring out the worst is so many of my fellow countrymen so much as the refugee crisis has.
When I was a small boy, I obviously didn’t know much about politics. I knew Canada had a prime minister, not a president; that we had the Queen on our coins, and that we would all sing ‘O Canada’ at special events, when we would come together as a community for a common goal or purpose.
Perhaps ignorance is bliss but, as a child growing up, I felt very secure in this Canadian national identity.
I knew we as Canadians didn’t agree on everything; that’s just being human. But I felt content in the knowledge that we did the best we could; that we helped each other out, and that I would be treated with respect.
It was a good way to grow up, because every respectable citizen was a friend.
I fear that other children may not be afforded the same luxury.
We have women and children from another country literally begging for us to let them live here in Canada. In the wake of the Paris attacks, I understand why some people are cautious.
But? I have heard some other people say the most horrible, bigoted things about these refugees. I won’t give these examples the credit of being printed, but it makes me wonder: why should we have to turn away the most vulnerable people of our time?
These people literally have nowhere to go.
A similar situation happened in the Second World War. Almost six million Jewish people were killed by Nazi Germany at this time.
Some tried to flee to Canada, roughly 900 of them on the ship MS St. Louis. We like to give ourselves a pat on the back for fighting the evil of fascism, and for liberating the Jews.
Well, let me give a dose of cold, hard reality.
Those people on board that ship did not find sanctuary here. In fact, we outright rejected them, because they were Jews.
Two-hundred-fifty-four of those people were later killed in the Nazi death camps.
The Jewish people have a saying, you know. They say: “whoever saves one, saves the world.” Well, we didn’t save the world that day. We didn’t save it 254 times.
Please, tell me, show me, that we won’t make the same mistake again.
I would love to believe that a piece of the Canada I grew up in still exists. A Canada that would have done everything it could to save as many as it could. We can save the world this time.
Daniel Seth Hunter-Owega