In 1891 my grandfather immigrated to Canada from England. He was an eleven-year-old orphan and had never seen him again as a family. I keep the 30 pages he wrote to document his life story. Her words really pull in the chains of my heart. Grandpa wrote: “But speaking of food, I never saw much. But speaking of being alone, I changed a lot of houses in that short period, I cried my heart.”
Imagine what it would be like if Canada was not a safe place to live, and suddenly I had to leave. You can only take what you can take. There will be miles of walking ahead of you. There are no luxury hotel rooms or chef meals to facilitate the trip. You can sleep outside with strangers with a limited amount of food to keep you safe, and you never know if you can see the family and friends you have left behind.
It may take courage to sit in a refugee camp, hoping but you never know if another country will accept you. Then when you are allowed to take on more challenges – the language and culture that you don’t understand. What an adjustment!
Well, if you think about it, most of us are immigrants. Our ancestors decided, for whatever reason, that life would be better here than it was then. They courageously gave up what they knew so that we can now call this country “home”. I bet they had no idea how difficult it was!
I think Canada welcomes immigrants for three reasons:
1. We are compassionate and we want to help others because it is the right thing to do.
2. Our birth rate has declined over the years and we need people to grow and prosper our vast land.
3. Having a population of mosaics of cultures makes life interesting and helps us to broaden our mindset. We challenge to learn from our differences.
Last week, I was asked to speak to employees of the Saami immigration services in our city. Due to our country’s response to the Syrian crisis, referrals have increased more than three times! In recent years, this organization has been there to help around 20 migrants. In the past two months, more than 118 migrants have arrived and others are on their way!
I have a lot of respect for this organization and the others who participate across Canada, but I wonder why there are so few hands to do this work. How can I help you? Can you donate certain items to make it easier to start families from scratch? Can you invest an hour or two a week helping someone with homework in English or getting to know our city and culture? What do you hope someone will do to your family if they are in such a vulnerable situation?
Remember, we are all in the same boat
Perhaps you could just send a baking sheet to the staff to enjoy it in the middle of their busy day. Can you help move the office to its new location?
Even a few words of encouragement are likely to do a lot for immigrants and employees. It only takes a few minutes to write a note to participants in the process. For example, let Antonio Samayoa, director of Saamis Immigration know that you are ready to be part of his resource team (or applaud everyone on the sidelines)!