One doesn’t need to spend more than a few minutes on social media to find objections to the federal government’s announcement that Canada will be taking in 25,000 Syrian refugees.
And the objections aren’t just from some nebulous, anonymous posts from the cloud of cyberspace.
The debate is raging on a number of Salmon Arm-based Facebook pages, twitter accounts and the like. To hear it from some, Canada is simply throwing the gates open and inviting terrorists to attack our towns and cities. To read some of what’s out there, one could conclude that every member of the Muslim faith is plotting to maim or kill.
It’s simply untrue.
The upside among some of what I read is that for every dark, nasty, racist comment, there are brighter lights among us.
One of the best things I read said something like:
“What should you do if Syrian refugees move into your neighbourhood?
“Offer them food, clothing, shelter and your kindness.”
We need to remember that these refugees are people. They are fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. They have the same basic needs as the rest of us. They want to feed their families, care for their health, to have a safe place to live and raise their children.
And as such, they must be afforded the respect and dignity we all deserve as human beings.
There are those who are working to bring refugee families right here to Salmon Arm to live among us, to join our community and find a life free of a war zone.
Who among us would not want the same, should we have the misfortune.
It heartens me to see that a group of people, including people from a number of different local churches and people who simply want to help others have come together to help sponsor three to five families to join our community. A few volunteers at first turned into dozens, and as things move closer to fruition, and as more is known about the needs of the particular families, it is hoped more citizens can step up and offer their assistance.
It’s not going to be easy for these families.
As with many new immigrants, they will have a challenge making a new life in a previously unknown place. For these refugees that challenge will be compounded by their traumatic experiences. As Brian Ayotte, one of the local organizers said, “it will be like they’ve landed on the moon.”
Salmon Arm has a pretty white-bread reputation, but be assured, there are many among us who appreciate the wealth that comes from embracing diversity. There is much to be gained from learning of cultures different from our own.
And for those who want to whine about the refugees on social media. Go ahead. I hope the rest of us spend our time more constructively by giving these new families the correct impression of Salmon Arm – a place filled with kindness and generosity.