Written by a volunteer ... a voice of CGR
EDMONTON, AB—Syria has been swept into a storm of misfortune since the war began in 2011. I remember sitting at my desk in my grade 12 social studies class, listening to my teacher start off the day with a 15 minute discussion of current events. When the war started, my teacher would report to us how people were killing each other. It sounded so incredulous—too insane to imagine—but it also showed me how sheltered and privileged I was to be born in Canada. My teacher grabbed one of our textbooks from another student’s desk and held it up for the entire class to see. It was the 2011 edition, printed the previous year.
He said, “Current events are current to us now, but I want you all to remember that the issues we talk about today are what make up history in books like these tomorrow.”
Back then, Syria was just a name we heard infrequently. As Canadians, many students in our discussions felt that we could not do anything for Syrians to ease their internal distress. Today, we would have to be living under a rock to be unaware of the Syrian refugee crisis.
The distance from Syria to Canada is over 9000 km! Fleeing into neighbouring countries, that is the distance that Syrian refugees are now traveling, hopeful that countries like Canada would greet them with the kindness and compassion that a war-torn country can’t provide. Toronto and Montreal have just welcomed their first group of Syrian refugees in December, with thousands more sure to follow.
Syria is no longer a dull hum that falls on deaf ears; it is a loud and desperate cry that beckons us with an obligation to care for them. Obligation often stems from a collective identity, and we are sharing a collective identity with Syrian refugees as human beings on this Earth.
A few decades from now, our children or grandchildren will be sitting in their grade 12 social studies class on the first day with new textbooks resting on their desk. They may be the first to use this new edition, and there will no doubt be a section, if not, a chapter dedicated to the Syrian refugee crisis. We should all think about what they would learn from Canada’s role in all of this, and the pride they would feel as Canadians to know that their parents or grandparents could and did do more.
I know there’s fear surrounding the idea of inviting refugees into our country, but that fear isn’t a big enough excuse for me to dismiss the fact that before they identify as anything else, they are human beings—deserving and needing to know that they are loved. The notion of not knowing how I, a single life, could change a global crisis isn’t enough to stop me from trying. I know I can’t change the world, but I know I can at least change the world for one person.
Would you consider providing hope for Syrians and other displaced refugees?