Watching my local news station the other night, I found myself interested in the story of a Syrian man who’d acquired his Canadian Citizenship. When interviewed he made a comment that piqued my interest and made me think. He is, by all accounts a refugee success story; settling in to a rural Nova Scotia town after fleeing Syria with his family, immersing himself into the community and determined to build a positive future, for himself, his family, and those who helped him.
Among the many humble comments he made in the interview, he also alluded to immigrants being perceived in past as something of a burden, draining an already tight financial economy and taking the jobs of locals, a perception he proved very wrong. His is the perfect example of the ideal immigration story. Over the past three years not only did he work to give back to his community but he also launched a successful chocolatier business that now proudly employs some 30 plus locals; a gift to this rural community where jobs are scarce.
My parents were immigrants, among the many after World War ll, who flooded North America. They arrived in Canada with two children, two suitcases and $57 US dollars. They didn’t speak the language and had no formal job training; the war took care of that, but they were hard working, honest, and determined to make a new life, a good life. Fast forward to today and I can proudly say that these two immigrants, like so many others who remain anonymous, built a successful life in their chosen country. They learned the language and after obtaining entry level jobs, both eventually reached senior positions in their fields, eventually retiring with a comfortable life.
This Syrian refugee, like my parents, like so many others, not only didn’t ‘take’ the jobs of locals, rather they created them for others. Immigration has enriched the very fiber of society, bringing us diversity, teaching us tolerance and acceptance, and uniting all mankind. And don’t even get me started on the food, the variety of restaurants, grocery stores, and traditional foods is a bounty enjoyed by all!
Immigrating isn’t easy, nor is it for the faint of heart. It takes tremendous courage to leave all that is familiar and start anew in a place where the language, customs, and traditions are foreign, and it’s especially difficult if the reception is less than welcoming. (walk a mile in their shoes?)
Let’s embrace the diversity immigration brings because it makes us stronger, richer, and better as a people. And who knows, maybe one day we’ll even abolish racism, supremacy and hate.
Wouldn’t that be nice?