As a member of the Yukon Cares committee working to bring Syrian refugee families to Whitehorse, I would like to thank Lillian Nakamura-McGuire and Minh Le for sharing their stories. There are other stories that I’ve been told by former refugees who have lived here for 15 to 40 years.
Most of us, including many First Nation Yukoners, would have similar stories in our family histories. Many like me would not have such a dramatic or moving story, but perhaps our parents or grandparents didn’t know what their ancestors went through in their home countries or on their journeys to Canada for freedom and better opportunities.
People have migrated around the world since the first humans evolved. The mixing of ideas and learning from each other created technological advancement and cultural enrichment.
Wars and killing each other were also part of human history, but so far, it seems to me, our great achievements surpass the ugly side of our development. Our country is enriched by people who migrate here and bring their ideas, their culture and their appreciation for freedom and safety. It should remind us of what we Canadians have and take for granted.
Yukoners who fear the newcomers, whether they are immigrants, refugees or second-generation Canadians should make an effort to appreciate that we all share similar stories and we share a very small planet. We have more to fear in our long-established families who lack education, are hampered by poverty or discrimination, or take for granted our many rights and freedoms.
I know that Whitehorse as a community will be welcoming and supportive of the Syrian families who are about to arrive. And there will be some who have doubts and fears, but please take some time to learn more and perhaps some of the fear will be alleviated.