On Tuesday evening, a plane carrying Syrian refugees landed in Toronto, Canada. When the men, women and children disembarked, it meant the total number of asylum seekers accepted by Canada since Prime Minister Trudeau took office last November rose to over 10,000.
That’s 10,000 refugees from Syria in less than 2 months. If the country keeps up this pace, it could take in 60,000 in a year just from that one conflict. Annually, Canada takes in around 250,000 refugees from around the world.
This week, Canada welcomed its 10,000th refugee from the Syrian crisis. My thanks to all who have worked so hard to #WelcomeRefugees.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 13, 2016
By comparison, the US has taken in a little more than 2,000 Syrian refugees in more than 4 years and caps annual refugee intake at 70,000.
Despite Canada doing better than the US, the 10,000 refugee milestone has been a disappointment. Prime Minister Trudeau’s government wanted to accept 25,000 refugees by December 31st, making it perhaps the only country in the world where the arrival of 10,000 refugees in 2 months is a mixed message not because it’s too many, but because it’s too few.
In a world that seems more and more inclined to reject refugees, Canada wants to accelerate the pace of acceptance.
As the Immigration Minister John McCallum said, "We have now demonstrated, I think, an ability to get the machine up and to deliver the refugees to Canada. The next phase -- and it won't be easy, it won't always be totally smooth -- is to... ensure that they find a place to live and get services that they require."
Canada is a true anomaly at the moment. While xenophobic rhetoric is once again flaring in Europe (to say nothing of the surge in the US), Canadians are coming together to welcome and integrate the newcomers.
There seems to be little doubt among Canadians about the importance of hosting refugees around the country. These are victims of a brutal war. They need help. Ordinary citizens get this.
Not only do they get this, but they have been going above and beyond to shelter, feed, teach, advocate for and befriend refugees. Because they know that the trauma of war and the confusion of being in a new land can be daunting obstacles to returning to a normal life.
So countless community networks have sprouted up to help refugees resettle. For instance, a family or person can sign up to host refugees for a certain amount of time, buy needed groceries, provide rides, show how to navigate Canadian life, help with learning the language, help with job training and so on.
Trudeau has been steadfast about his progressivism since he’s taken office. His government will not be bent by xenophobia.
The celebration of the 10,000 refugee milestone is yet another sign that he plans to establish Canada as an example of openness and fairness for the rest of the world to follow.
When people are in need, you help them. It’s as simple as that. And it’s that simple determination that will help restore order to thousands and thousands of lives. Giving them the tools to build their lives and ensure their communities do not fall into poverty