My maternal grandparents, were a huge part of my life growing up. My poppa, was my everything.Both immigrants who had overcome big challenges in their lives in Germany and Denmark, they came to Canada for a better life for their children… one of whom was my mother.
I’ll never forget when as a teen, already insatiably curious and never one to follow the rules of never asking too many questions, I asked my grandparents what it was like when they came to Canada.
“Ach!” my Nani said: ” We could not buy anyting dat did not haf a picture of the food on it!”
There were no ESL lessons, no immigrant support services when my grandparents came to Canada, and it was hard for them. Very hard. They made their way to British Columbia and Prince George was where they settled.
My grandfather used his carpentry skills to build northern BC, as did my father who worked on one of the Peace River dams where I spent a summer with my mom and brother living in a tent trailer in a campground in Hudson’s Hope.
Somewhere along the line, one or both met Koazi Fujikawa, who I only knew growing up in the north as ‘Uncle Koazi’
Even when Koazi moved from PG back to Mission, friends used to ask me how I had a Japanese uncle when my family was all white! The funny thing is, I never questioned his presence until someone else did.
Koazi came up several times a year to bring us smoked salmon,blackberries, and it was from him I learned the need and value of the ooligans. When the runs were good, he would harvest them with his friends in local First Nations, smoke them and bring them to us up north.
Looking back now, it may not seem like the most conventional childhood, but really, it was. Unless you are Inuit or First Nations, we all came from somewhere else. Some of our families were immigrants, some were refugees, some have fled wars of their own. And I am thankful every day for where and how I grew up, and the people who shaped my life then, and now.
Would I be here, if my mother and her parents had not come over from Europe? Would I be the person I am if I had not been born and raised in the north,experiencing sustenance hunting, fishing? Learning at times from a Canadian born Japanese man who was always thought a foreigner because of the colour of his skin? A man I only ever knew as my uncle?
My point is this. Today I had a bit of a rant on twitter, and again on Facebook because I feel such a negative and hypocritical push-back on social media when it comes to Syrian Refugees.
I now make my home in Surrey. I have been a long,vocal and at times,the only critic of civic policy because I could see where it was leading.For years, Surrey has banked on having the lowest taxes in Metro Vancouver as a selling point to negate the negative press.
That has come,sadly, with a huge cost.
Instead of having reasonable,marginal property tax and DCC increases, we now see the large increases, because apparently the cost of policing in such a huge area, is a surprise. ( It is not, unless you are a dolt)
And of course, we see again now because our budget crisis is happening at the same time as our incoming refugees are in the news, a flurry of racist crap. And yes, it is crap.
But should any of the failures of our city government, of our provincial government, or our federal government…be the concerns of many fleeing a war we in Canada are helping to perpetuate?
No. No, this is not their fault, or their doing.
What I find so appalling… and you know who you are… is that many of the same people who are freaking out about accepting refugees because we are overloaded in our schools,clinics, hospitals etc…. are the same people who voted our current city council in. They have been silent since the last election except for talking about how great everything is… and suddenly now they are bringing up these issues as a reason why we should not let refugees into Surrey.
Yousuddenly have an issue with overcrowding? Talk to your city council who approved it all. In the face of people calling for restraint…. for years. Where were you when we were talking about this?
You have an issue in Surrey with refugee’s who do not have support services? Talk to your local Liberal/NDP MLA and find out why there is no funding. Did you ask about this before voting? No???
You think we should take care of our own? Great! I do too…but where were you when people were calling for support for a winter shelter?
Where were you when good women were feeding the homeless our city was trying to get rid of? When our Pop Up Soup Kitchen led by a woman who does not even live in Surrey… was being kicked out by our bylaws officers?
Have you been advocating and pushing for shelters, or trying to stop them? Have you been pushing for more funding to support our youth so they don’t head down the wrong path?
Where are you now, when good people leaving lives of pain and anguish, are wanting more for their children like our families wanted more for us? You get the idea.
I have been the one of the longest and loudest critics speaking out against the manner of development in our city.But I have always been on the side of what is right. And if you said nothing in the face of all the rampant development in Surrey when it was clear the province could not keep pace… you are part of the problem.
We all own this.
We are a village and yes it takes a village to raise a child. And it takes a village…. to raise a village. Not just a child, but a city.
Why the hate on for Syrian refugees in Surrey right now? Because I can assure you as local RCMP can, that they are not behind the 60+ shootings-many with restricted weapons- that have happened in our community this year. Nor has all this crime been committed by refugees, period.
I welcome Syrian families and their children, despite the issues in our city,because they are fleeing war, bombs…..oh yes….war??!! The majority want to be at home. But their country is fast disappearing into a pile of rubble.
They are not responsible for overcrowding, parking ,crime in Surrey or anything else you might want to use them as an excuse for.
Blaming refugee’s is convenient, and it is easy. But they are not the cause of our problems.
Look to your elected officials for that. And if you must, look in the mirror.