Canada and the refugee crisis: room for improvement

When describing our country’s efforts towards refugee protection many Canadians would say we have been fair and compassionate. Our domestic refugee protection system and Resettlement Assistance Program have both been praised by the United Nations Refugee Agency and out of the 100,000 refugees resettled around the world per year, Canada takes in roughly 10 per cent of those refugees.

With all of this positive information released from our government why is it that Canada has only resettled fewer than 200 Syrian refugees? In the past three and half years that war has devastated Syria 10 million people have been displaced. In the time Germany has resettled 6,000, welcomed 11,800 asylum seekers, and promised two-year residence visas to another 20,000 Syrians trapped in the Middle East.

A country that only has a quarter of our population, Sweden, has given residence status to 30,000 Syrians. Canada has only resettled 200 people in the span that others resettled approximately 67,800 people. For a country that boasts about our refugee protection programs, we haven’t been too diligent and effective with the recent influx of refugees.

Hungary Migrants

Syrian refugees walking along a railway towards western Europe; Photo Courtesy of:

Is it really that difficult? To a class of grade sixes it is quite simple. At Dewson Street Junior Public School, in Toronto, students and parents are helping raise money to sponsor a refugee family. They call it the Thousand Schools Challenge and are challenging other schools in Canada to help out with their cause.

To these young kids helping out refugees is a no brainer. We as Canadians are so lucky and we have everything we can wish for. People who are fleeing their countries have left for a reason. Their homes are being destroyed. If a school that only goes up to grade six can realize how to help then bigger institutions, like Brock, should be finding ways to help.

In countries like Germany, Sweden, and Norway it only takes four to six months to process resettlement for refugees; in Canada, it can take a lot longer. What the students at Dewson Street are doing is raising concerns to our government. If they can raise enough money to sponsor a whole family, the government can take on a much bigger part.

With the new Liberal government just voted in, Trudeau has promised to bring in 25,000 refugees into Canada and invest $100 million to improve refugee processing, sponsorships, and settlement. That is just a platform until Trudeau fulfils this promise and us as Canadians and world citizens should ensure that he is accountable for this.

I believe that kids have the best interest at heart and if they could think of such an initiative as the Thousand Schools Challenge, other Canadians can routinely pitch in and help.
We should help because we have everything that these refugees got stripped of, we should help because this is happening in our world and this is not a hard a concept to grasp, even to 12 year olds. Donate to the cause, advocate for the cause, and stay educated.

-Madi Fuller

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