How to be more like Canada: upcoming events on bringing refugees to Seattle

Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is joined by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne as they hand out parts of a welcome package to newly arrived Syrian refugees. (Photo courtesy Prime Minister Justin Trudeau via Flickr.)
Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is joined by Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne as they hand out parts of a welcome package to newly arrived Syrian refugees. (Photo courtesy Prime Minister Justin Trudeau via Flickr.)

When I heard Canada’s newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau personally made time to meet incoming Syrian refugees, I was impressed. In the ol’ U.S. of A., we’re still arguing about whether they should even be allowed in.

I was stunned by what Trudeau said: “We define a Canadian not by a skin colour or a language or a religion or a background. But by a shared set of values, aspirations, hopes and dreams that not just Canadians but people around the world share.”

Damn! PM McDreamy just stole our thunder. Put USA where he says Canada (and “color” where he says “colour”) and you’ll have a good idea of the country I thought I was living in.  

Trudeau is 43 (the same age as JFK when he was elected President), and son of former PM Pierre Trudeau. Once you get past his political dynasty and good looks (if you can), you’ll find he has another gift, that of giving quite an inspiring speech.

So who’s sticking up for good ol’ American values here at home? Turns out Washington’s almost-as-hunky Gov. Jay Inslee has some similar ideas. When many state governors loudly called for blocking the acceptance of Syrian refugees, Inslee was one of the first politicians to stand for refugees, making him a national example.

Gosh, it’s nice to have a governor that thinks things through and sticks to his values, even under duress. I’m surprised that this kind of thinking needs to be pointed out.

North America was made into what it is today by immigration. Supporting refugees, who have no choice but to immigrate, should be seen as one of the most generous and American acts. Inslee points out our history of internment camps right here in Washington. Do we really have such a short memory?

Back to Trudeau. His little humanitarian gesture seems to have garnered plenty of support. It turns out being a leader in a way that connects to the people’s values is seen as a good thing. Over here south of the border, we could learn a thing or two. We should be a bit like the American-values Canada.

Here in Seattle, our local community has been a bit more welcoming, with the city council passing a resolution this week to state that Muslims and refugees are not the enemy.

So, wanna be like Canada, eh? There are two local events this week, where you can find out how to do just that.

Americans for Refugees & Immigrants has organized a roundtable that aims to clear up misconceptions some may have about the refugee process. The discussion will include representatives from the International Rescue Committee, Jewish Family Services, and the State Refugee Coordinator for the Office of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance (ORIA-DSHS). Audience members will get to ask questions directly, in a discussion facilitated by OneAmerica.

Event: Thurs, Dec 17, 6-8pm Information Session on Refugee Resettlement with ORIA-DSHS, IRC & JFS

The Churchill Society is putting on an all-day event on Saturday specifically discussing Inslee’s statements in the New York Times, “Why My State Won’t Close its Doors to Syrian Refugees.” Speakers will include representatives from the Governor’s Office, the Refugee Women’s Alliance, the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, Jewish Family Services, and more. Strong opinions are welcome, and the organizers are hoping to foster an open and spirited discussion.

Event: Sat, Dec 19 10am-5pm Why My State Won’t Close its Doors to Syrian Refugees

The talk continues in January, with the Young Professionals International Network holding a discussion on U.S. policy in Syria, and options for the United States going forward.

Event: Jan 12, 2016 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm Global Cafe: U.S. Policy in Syria

And as always, you can submit your own event to the Globalist Calendar!

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