‘A human life has value here’

Canada has stood in sharp contrast to the welcome that refugees from the civil war in Syria have received in many other locales.

The New York Times this week looked at the country’s welcoming tone, and its potential pitfalls, following up on how some of the refugees are doing.

Sponsors of the refugees get a year to help them resettle; that’s not a lot of time considering the cultural change that has to occur.

Another weekend, the extended group gathered for a picnic, the first birthday party anyone had thrown for Mr. Ballani. He was deeply moved by the gesture. “A human life has value here,” he had said in an interview. “You can feel it everywhere.”

But the conversation at the party turned to his relatives in Syria, and he seemed distant as the Canadians presented his cake. Like many of the newcomers, he regularly receives calls and texts from family members, some in harrowing straits, as news reports describe starvation back home and mass drownings in the Mediterranean.

“I am really thankful to them; I don’t want them to misunderstand,” he said later about the sponsors. “It’s like I’m two people at the same time, one happy and one unhappy,” because of his family’s continued suffering.

The sponsors had been working on that, too, helping match Mr. Ballani’s brother in Jordan with another Toronto sponsor group and laboring over the paperwork. By late spring they had news: His relatives could arrive by year’s end.

Mr. Ballani, overjoyed, started planning what he would show his relatives in the city that had taken him in. This time, he would be the guide.

“Now it’s my turn to help,” he said.

It’s a story of decent people doing a decent thing, a tradition worth celebrating today — Canada Day

  • PaulJ

    Somme-times life has value here.

  • BReynolds33

    Canada: Making the US look like petulant children since, well, forever, really.

    • Jeff

      I’m guessing there are lots of Americans and charitable organizations willing to take in refugees. Oversimplifying perhaps, but we don’t have a political system like Canada. I doubt Harper would have allowed it but Trudeau has the ability to get things done unlike our system here.

      • Rob

        I think that’s a huge part of it. After reading an article about a group of churches that was “adopting” several refugee families in Canada, I looked into what was going on here to see if similar programs were running here in MN. The answer was yes, sort of, but the refugees were only trickling in because of our government’s immigration policies.

  • lindblomeagles

    America struggles with new cultures because America historically, traditionally, places people in boxes (e.g. Whites, Blacks, Natives, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Asians, Latins, GLBT, etc.), and then assigns a negative value to each of the new boxes America encounters (e.g. Slaves, Savages, Terrorists, Communists, Queer, Illegal Immigrants, etc.) The box assignments, negative as they are, reinforces our cultural mythology of a people (white) forging a new nation based on principles (Democracy, Capitalism, etc.) the world had never known (and hasn’t accepted) founded in Christian teachings and practiced by wise men (The Founding Fathers) and bravely fought for by generations of Americans against all threats to this orderly, righteous, nation. What is perhaps missing from our Us-versus-Them narrative is human beings for centuries migrate to other places in the world, usually because their chances of survival are slim if they stay where they are at. Eventually, migrants are absorbed into other societies because humanity tends to need more people to do the work, more people than the original people in a given area can provide through live births and the growing up of children into productive citizens. As world populations increase, its become harder and harder for migrants to invade an area, and claim it as theirs. Even now, the terrorists have not won a country yet, and most of them are interested in reclaiming their homeland, not establishing colonies around the world. In contrast, Canada has had a very different history, culture, mythology. They seem to embrace some form of internationalism, in large part because they’ve needed that in order to exist in peace and prosper through the ages.