Friday, February 24, 2017

They're Coming



The world is awash in refugees. And the world is closing its eyes and its doors. Crawford Killian writes:

According to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, over 65 million people worldwide have been forcibly displaced — the equivalent of almost two Canadas. More than 21 million are refugees, half of them from just three countries: Somalia, Afghanistan, and Syria. And more than half of those 21 million are under the age of 18.

Whether we like it or not, we’re in the midst of the greatest displacement of people in human history, and it will only get worse. Climate change is making vast stretches of Africa and the Middle East uninhabitable, fit only for warlords to fight over. Climate-driven wars, droughts, and floods will force still more from the tropics to the temperate zones.

Not all will die on Libyan beaches. Some will make it to Mexico, or the U.S., and then to the Canadian border. Millions, already living in the U.S., will head north — spurred by new deportation rules now being developed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

We can also expect plenty of native-born Americans following the Vietnam war resisters of the 1960s, not to mention expatriate Canadians running for home while the running is good.

The question isn't  should we accept them. After all, we are a nation of refugees:

The United Empire Loyalists were refugees. So were the Irish fleeing the potato famine of the 1840s and the Black people escaping slavery in the American South. The Doukhobors were Russian refugees, their escape paid for by Leo Tolstoy’s book royalties.  

The question is how do we accept them. Killian suggests that we:

Pour money into provincial school systems and post-secondaries, especially for English and French language training. Most refugees are young, and half are children. Move them through the system toward jobs and careers we’ll need, and then deliver the jobs.

Find or build housing in smaller towns and cities to shelter refugees while they learn the language and the country. The money will boost local economies and create a climate of opportunity for refugee entrepreneurs to open their own businesses. Canadians have acquired a taste for global cuisine in the past half-century, and I can’t wait to try Syrian and Somali cuisine.

Pour more money into healthcare, especially mental health. No one is displaced without suffering severe stress, and refugees will need strong support to get through a very bad time. Once through it, they’ll give back far more than they received.

Fast-track the professionals among the refugees. The doctors, teachers, and engineers should resume their careers as soon as possible. Many will have U.S. experience, and will settle in quickly. But all should find meaningful work.

Use the refugees to create the infrastructure for future waves. Because they will assuredly come, like the multiple waves of a tsunami.

That means spending money. But that's how we have built this country. If done right, refugees become an asset, not a burden.

Image: canvas.harvard.edu

17 comments:

Toby said...

Owen, lets bring up a subject that no one wants to talk about. Most of the world's refugees are pouring out of areas that are vastly over-populated. Intentionally or not, they created much of their own problem. The world has seen this scenario many times before but never on this scale.

Humans are like any other species in that we consume and multiply until we become too many for the available food and water and then we migrate or starve. When Europeans became too many the surplus fled west and overran indigenous populations in North, Central and South America. Are we to be overrun? Right now, refugees coming to Canada are a trickle we can easily absorb. It is going to get worse. As you said above, Owen, global warming is the driving factor. What will happen when a billion people are on the move? How many will Canada be able to accept before we are overrun like the First Nations were by our ancestors.

Justin Trudeau makes wonderful speeches inviting refugees to come to Canada. What is his upper limit? How many is he going to accept before the backlash hits. Oh yes, there will be a backlash just as there is in Europe and the US.

If you haven't heard it, listen to Gwynne Dyer's Climate Wars http://gwynnedyer.com/radio/

Dana said...

All of which makes far too much sense to be expected of a government of Canada.

Owen Gray said...

Dyer warned us long ago about what was coming, Toby. We're in for a rough future. But, as the great grandchild of an Irishman who arrived here at the age of 12, I've always been grateful that Canada opened its doors. We haven't always opened our doors -- to Jews, for instance,fleeing Hitler.

But we know what's coming. Dyer has laid out the future. And we have to plan or it.

Owen Gray said...

Wisdom is hard to find these days, Dana. But it's the only thing that stands between us and disaster.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

Thx. for posting Owen.I agree with the authors ideas. What causes people to leave their homes and become refugees?The three countries, afghanistan, Somalia and Syria, have all been invaded, by proxy and otherwise and especially in Syria, their countries infrastructures destroyed and their very lives taken.

This military violence is coming from the west, particularly the U.S. These people do not want to leave their homes to wander parts of the world sometimes aimlessly because they want to! Remember the boat people from Vietnam? 60 thousand of them. Canada took them in. We found a way to successfully bring in such a large number of people.

We have to find a way to deal with these people compassionately and humanely. They deserve to have a peaceful and productive life safe from harm.We also have to look past the stereotyping and manufactured racism of those who are Muslims. We have to independently make our own judgements and treat these people with the respect and courtesy they deserve.

Muslims have been coming to Canada for over 100 yrs. They have lead productive, successful lives, contributing much to Canada. The first Mosque in North America was built in Edmonton, with the help of Christians.

We have much to learn from First Nations, when they welcomed settlers(the other) into their inclusive circle. In fact according to John Ralston Saul Canada's multicultural immigration is based on the First Nations concept of Inclusion.

You see these refugees as assets to our country. Me too.

Owen Gray said...

The First Nations model -- as Ralston Saul points out -- is at this country's core, Pam. We are an ever widening circle.

The Mound of Sound said...

Trump is looking to forcibly remove millions of illegal aliens. If you had spent 10, 20 or 30 years living in the States and faced return to Honduras, Guatemala or Mexico but got the idea that you could find refuge in Canada, where would you go?

We're a nation of 35-million and our government is one of the "everyday low taxes" club. Without getting into the merits of providing sanctuary for migrants on a massive scale, where do we find the money it would take to settle newcomers and integrate them to our society and economy? You can't do it free and the money simply isn't there. Would our government raise taxes on the middle class and above, perhaps corporations too, to fund this? What priorities would have to be shelved - reversing inequality, climate change adaptation, infrastructure renewal, health care?

We're a petro-state, Owen, one of the worst. We drive migration, we don't solve it.

the salamander said...

.. we need to look at Mosul .. what is left but rubble, non? They are fighting for what there..? But at the same time I wonder truly how many refugees are out there now, just from that city & its environs.. And where have they gone..? Or where are they going? I can barely comprehend it happening to me or mine.. being ejected from home and set on a pathways just to survive.

I try to imagine being basically forced to eject from Canada, with none of my possessions, possibly members of family killed as the whole horrible process of war.. lands right on top of you .. you are now collateral damage.. adrift now. To enter hostile territory will be extra painful, even horrendous.. Even getting to that next territory is gigantic nonstop risk. Hourly, daily.. endlessly.. Where have you ended up?..

The story of Anne Harvey is one of our most unbelievable tales of the passage and encounter at Isle Aux Morts - Newfoundland.. These were Irish immigrants - shipwrecked offshore. Again we see either refugees, or the migrating, encounter the horrible experiences.. the survivors ended up in the poorhouse in Halifax. But they were sheltered, warmed & fed on the beach for more than 5 days, during the rescue by the Harvey family & the few neighbors.. Tragic? Of course.. but then add being blown up by factional fighting enroute or drowning with others in a rubber boat offshore of your next staggering challenge.

Now treat these folks - like military caualties.. you know, like the military looks after its wounded - They just do it.. your comrades see to it.. in the battle areas, and egress to treatment.. and a home hospital.. including food and water.. and respect.. and admiration from medical personnel. Now why is it the two sets of warriors experience such a different experience? One set are the heroes, the other set, the outcasts. Now imagine a nightmare exodus.. say from Japan.. or India.. due to environmental events, famine or nuclear disaster or war, or even nonending drought.. ie - no water - zero.. How many would build watercraft to head due east to beautiful BC ? At what point does Canadian Customs or Homeland Security become overwhelmed? Alaska? Mexico? At what point does Climate Change set of a cascade.. into the downside of up? Strife.. radical strife comes to North America.. eh?

Owen Gray said...

Unfortunately true, Mound. Very few seem to have thought about the future Gwyn Dyer laid out a decade or so ago. If we stumble into it, it will mean chaos.

Owen Gray said...

Radical strife here is not some farfetched notion, salamander. If fact, that's what the Trumpians fear. But they're too dense to understand that they're throwing gasoline on the fire.

Steve said...

We are a big and warming land. We need a man with a plan. Look to Singapore with its public housing, look to Isreal with its settlers program. We can do this. If we mess this up its going to be France. Ghettos and riots.

Toby said...

Just a reminder that this issue has been around before. Immigrants: The Last Time America Sent Her Own Packing http://www.historynet.com/immigrants-the-last-time-america-sent-her-own-packing.htm

Owen Gray said...

I'm not sure the Israeli settlement program is the way to go, Steve. But, if we give the problem so serious thought, we can have a significant impact.

Owen Gray said...

An excellent link, Toby. There are lessons to be learned -- if we pay attention to history.

ffd said...

The current situation where Americans calling themselves refugees are crossing the Canadian border without any recognition of Canadian laws at all. Sorry, just because they call themselves refugees doesn't mean they are. Some are likely old fashioned criminals desperate to escape American justice. This sneaking across the border is tailor made for such people. We really don't know who they are.

CBC seems to be bending over backwards to romanticize them - shades of the underground railway. But the USA doesn't count as a dangerous country that justifies any sort of behaviour to escape from, not yet anyway. There are checks and balances and they are kicking in already. Trump's travel block on citizens from the seven Islamic countries has been declared unconstitutional and stopped, for now anyway. Trump and crew are going to spend vast amounts of energy fighting each other and a lot of what they think they are going to do isn't going to happen. Employers who depend on migrant labour are not going to be happy to find their work force has been deported and will do their best to prevent it, because it is in their interest. Corporations who benefit from international trade agreements won't want to see them torn up and will fight back.

Frankly Canadians are not willing to pay more in taxes to support their own homeless, never mind strangers who have arrived in a most suspicious way. They don't want to pay more taxes even to upgrade 100 year old infrastructure in Toronto. So what happens is that services are taken from the regular homeless and given to the strangers.

So cut the romantic crap and grow a brain. These "refugees" should be filling in the paperwork and introducing themselves according to the legal framework which is designed to protect Canadians. They should have respect for our laws from the beginning.

Owen Gray said...

Trump has put the heat on "illegals," ffd. If they're going to be deported, they're heading north. As I said, they will cost money. But we don't have the internal population growth to sustain our economy. By taking in immigrants we create a market for our goods and services.

Owen Gray said...

I'd like to publish your comment, Anon. But it needs to be initialed.