The recent election results in the United States have caused panic and fear in many people, causing them to turn to Canada for refuge. It is important to note, however, people all over the world have been seeking for a safe haven prior to the current political status of the United States. After the election, there were over 200,000 visits on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website inquiring about how to move to Canada; if this number seems high, well the United Nations estimates that there about 24 million refugees in the world today, and half of these refugees are under 18. That makes around 12 million children who have been made refugees looking for safety. I think the numbers speak for themselves, and they are staggering… overwhelming.
Many people don’t know what to do with these figures; some in denial, some blame refugees themselves for their plight, some try to find ways to open their homes and their borders. You may have seen television reports of a huge detention facility near Toronto. Some Canadian born children have been detained, or have been forced out of their own country because their parents are failed refugee claimants. Family separation should not happen, but it does. Families are torn apart. Because of the length of time it takes to navigate the stages in the refugee process, parents are sometimes separated from their children for years before the family can be reunited. Even when parents are reunited with their children, sometimes it has been so long that the children don’t know the parents. Heartbreak like this should not happen, people being deported to danger should not happen, people should not be feared because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of any group, but they all happen.
As Canadians, we must recognize not only our neighbors from the South unable to acquire immigration status, but also acknowledge those from a different place, a different continent, the rest of the world. 1 John 3:18 says “…let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth,” therefore, it is up to each of us to be Christ bearers, to stand up and say hello, welcome in. Join us. We respect you. We acknowledge your pain and suffering. We are inspired by your courage. We learn from you. We are stronger with you.
My name is Claire R., Ministry Specialist for Inland Protection of Refugees for the Diocese of London, and I am Proud to Protect Refugees.