Growing up in a village in Southwestern Ontario in rural farming country, we had three churches, one Anglican, a United and a Presbyterian, if you were Catholic you had to go to London. There were two public schools for kids from either side of the river, and one high school with on average 400 or so students, and almost everyone I knew looked like me.
Diversity until recently was primarily concentrated within large metropolitan areas, and the demographic of rural and smaller towns and cities were up until the last couple decades predominately from Europe, the UK and Ireland or Native Canadians, with pockets of other nationalities here and there.
I suppose in large part cause the most places where people with brown variations of skin colour originate generally dreamed of finding their way to our prosperous neighbour to the south, and not to a frozen hostile wasteland in the north.
Canadians have a reputation as rather tolerant, yet, we certainly do have our share of white supremacists, xenophobia, and I know we’ve had ‘secret’ KKK groups even locally, just as in the U.S.
To be honest, I’m not even exactly sure what the difference is, and why Canadians for the most part welcome cultural diversity, and that Americans have always been more of a melting pot with large swaths of racist regions going back a few centuries.
Canadians are made of hardy stuff though, and I think anyone whose willing to come so far from home to start anew, well, you must be made of some strong stuff too, and that is something we recognize, we admire, and we embrace.
Maybe one difference is our immigration policies.
These policies branch out from 3 types of applicants – Economic, Family Reunification and Humanitarian. Most of those who come to Canada come through via economic immigration (around 50%), which is based on a point system, rewarding applicants with higher levels of education, job experience, and language skills. This economic applicant being the largest group, is designed so that this group fuels growth, offsetting the cost of other types of immigrants.
Every year, millions of people from around the world come to Canada to visit, work, or study temporarily. In addition, more than 300,000 people are approved to make Canada their permanent home each year under three broad categories – economic immigration, family reunification and humanitarian considerations.Government of Canada – Understanding Canada’s immigration system
That doesn’t mean that Canada offers a free pass to anyone. Whether you’ve got Temporary Protected Status or no status in the United States, or are coming from any particular region of the world, there is a strict process in place. You might think that once you’re in, you’re in, but that’s just not the case.
There are incidences of immigrants being deported back to their country of origin, yet, by and large our system is sympathetic, straightforward, and generally successful due to its adaptability.
Canada also has a proud humanitarian tradition. This tradition includes resettling refugees from abroad, and an in-Canada asylum system for those with a well-founded fear of persecution, torture, or death. While eligible asylum claimants can live in Canada while they wait for their claim to be decided, a rejected claim means that they are expected to leave Canada – or they will be removed.IBID
So what is happening right now in the U.S. is hard to wrap my head around, difficult to understand, to see these ICE raids is disturbing to watch, so heart-wrenching, they look vindictive and xenophobic. Where is the process? Where is the humanity? It is revolting.
It is barbaric. It for me shows a complete and utter lack of empathy, from when the raids are done, how they are done, the unnecessary level of meanness. From the very officials who administer these departments, from caging kids to violent deportations, they admit straight up that the point IS the cruelty, the acknowledgement that this level of barbarism is meant to deter – as if those seeking asylum at their southern borders actually have a choice, which is why the policies reek of ignorance and racism.
For instance, a refugee seeking asylum, a family, a person, anyone who travels hundreds of miles are out of options, are expecting it to be really hard, but their choices have come down to either flee their country and take their chances, or stay and die.
It is inhumane.
Cruel justice is no justice at all, to my mind.
Ripping parents away from children? Leaving these children abandoned and traumatized? What sort of policy is this? Sending people back to die in a country they’ve never been?
Cruel justice says more about the one executing the justice, than the ones receiving the justice – it says that they are weak and small. It smacks of fear and ignorance, it is uncivilized, it is the actions of those who intend to cause fear, and trauma, and strips away the false facades of illegality and all the other rhetoric is exposed for what it really is, and we see the true face of fascism that propels this administration into more senseless cruelty.
This brutish administration goes out of their way to create undue hardship, it wounds people unnecessarily, it punishes those who are already weakened, already with some fragility, and then to watch as so many approve of such cruelty, I am disgusted by the land of my birth.
Seriously, who gives a crap what colour someone is, or how they pray, or whatever other BS racist ideas that get such traction with the right-wing white supremacist set. I mean, this is something that humanity has dealt with for hundreds and thousands of years, and some Americans I think need to get their head out of their arse.
Of economic migrants, of those fleeing for their lives and seeking asylum, of temporary workers doing the jobs that others don’t want to do, these are not unique to the 21st century AD than they were unique to the 12th century BC, whether the Hebrews exodus out of Egypt is fable or fact, many of the most ancient stories of mankind tell tales of long journeys to strange lands, of those seeking a better life, there is NOTHING new here.
Demographic changes are just too easy though for some weak politicians to place the blame upon, saves them from actually having to care about the well-being of the people they serve.
If humans had not sought new horizons, not sought to save our families, not sought asylum, absolutely none of us would be here. Period.
And, this is not a Muslim story, or a Latino story, or whoever, it is the story that each and every single one of us shares inside, this is a HUMAN story.
It is the story of what it means to be human, to seek new horizons, to seek shelter in the storm, to fear the stranger, but also to recognize our shared humanity is our greatest strength. Diversity in nature is essential to healthy natural communities, and the sooner some humans get that one defining principal, the better off we all will be.
To not have concrete immigration policies in this day and age is shortsighted and foolish.
A civilized country is one that seeks to utilize the wealth of talents and strengths that comes with diversity, the economic advantages that immigration offers, after all, is what America was built upon, it is the underlying foundation and its greatest gift – being squandered with ignorance and hate.
To blame ones woes on some outside force is a tired and old fascist trick, bait and switch, saying more or less that they do not have to actually do anything, because the problem is THEM.
And, so, these charismatic leaders gain control by playing on that very human weakness, that desire to pass the buck.
Some are just I guess easily manipulated into believing that someones skin colour, religious belief, or sexual orientation or gender identity somehow affects their lives, their success, their security, to think any of that is at the root of one’s problems, is naive, is weak – well, besides that reality just does not support such racist tropes.
It is America’s Achilles heel, their biggest weakness, and it is maybe time, once and for all, they faced it head-on.
Maybe, if nothing else, these are conversations that have been long overdue, and brought out into the open can now be faced, acknowledged, and through that true liberation, true freedom from the illusion that not discussing something, making something taboo, thinking that it would actually make racism go away.
It hasn’t. It won’t.
“What has happened to us in this country? If we study our own history, we find that we have always been ready to receive the unfortunate from other countries, and though this may seem a generous gesture on our part, we have profited a thousand fold by what they have brought us.”Eleanor Roosevelt