Spurning Syrian Refugees Is Inhumane

Sandra LaFleur

I have been following the debate on social media regarding the 25,000 Syrian refugees and the angst and internal processes some Canadians are experiencing in their inability to accept the newcomers. And each rant that I read always brings me back to a same and curious, truthful reality that greed and fear are the predominate emotions driving these commenters with logic coming in a distant third. There is no humanity.

Some of the posts comments allude to their belief, "there won’t be enough for me and my children if they come." Enough of what? I don’t know. Most probably includes housing, health care, education and jobs (for starters). Still other people flat out proclaim all the Syrian refugees to be terrorists and write, "they’ll bomb us if we let them in" while other posts read, "there’s militant terrorists hiding within the 25,000 refugees, we can’t take a chance" (the latter rant having some truth as nothing is absolute). Regardless, with all the negative comments being posted I can’t help but note that a huge majority of the people posting have conveniently left out or forgot their family’s own historical start on North American soil (Turtle Island).

Perhaps those against accepting the Syrian refugees need to be reminded or, in some cases, told the truth of the beginnings of their existence in Canada.

A simple condensed historical truth is that Indigenous folk accepted European strangers - straight out - at first contact. Not the third, fourth or fifth contact - the first contact.

When the European explorers floated, half dead and starving onto Turtle Island’s shores, First Nations folk had to nurse the sailors back to health. A huge percentage of the sailors were dealing with scurvy. There wasn’t a feast where Indigenous folk came running out of the forests, to the ships overjoyed and yelling, ‘come dine with us, come sit in our homes, our daughters will serve you’, as some historians might suggest. No.

At first contact the louse ridden, sick and starving Europeans would’ve died if not for Indigenous folk ministrations of medicines. It certainly would've been easier to let nature take its course and let the strangers die. However, First Nations cared for the incapacitated strangers without a second thought; there were no cries of "there’s not enough!"

So, why the fear and confusion over the Syrian refugee issue?

I’m not going to regurgitate the same readily obvious and multi-posted rebuttals like; quoting previous statistical numbers of successful new immigrants, religious duty, crime statistics and neither am I bringing into question political affiliation. I simply am pointing out a logical and genuine truth; First Nation tribes most probably saved some of the disgruntled commenter’s family’s blood lines so their family names could continue to proliferate here on Turtle Island, period.

In continuation – and in condensed general form; First Nations folk taught the newcomers how to stay strong and once they were well, the immigrants were taught to fend for themselves; building fires, foraging for food, organizing shelters and sewing weather appropriate clothing and the black and shiny buckled shoes (the fashion of the time for European elite) were replaced with weather sturdy, leather shoes (moccasins).

Your great, great grandfather was taught about medicinal plants because your relatives needed to tend to your own. Your uncles, grandfathers, great grandfathers (and others), for the most part, were welcomed on North American soil and made to feel safe. There most probably were some First Nation doubters and naysayers warning of ‘no good to come of these strangers’ however, in this, first contact sense, humanity trumped fear.

"So why judge the Syrian immigrant?"

Some of you are just generations away from the malnourished European ancestors who washed up on the shores of Turtle Island. And it’s beyond me how you've somehow managed to give yourselves the privileged right, to judge whether or not a different race of traumatized, beaten down and frightened people, is allowed onto Turtle Island.

Regardless, if any one group of people were to be consulted or have a say in ‘deciding’ who is welcomed onto Turtle Island I vote for a committee comprised of Indigenous people. And I’m not talking about the one First Nation guy wearing an Indigenous ‘headdress’ standing at the end of the line, shaking the hands of the new-Canadians at their swearing in ceremony, I’m talking about being involved in immigration and refugee claims - before the fact. I’m talking about developing policy, form criteria, being one of the governing bodies that accepts or denies entry at - first contact.

Indigenous people need to have a voice at Immigration Turtle Island (Canada).

All the Treaties have two signatures; a Crown representative’s (European) name and the numbered Treaty Chief’s signature hence, we’re all children of the Treaties. Neither of our peoples are going anywhere any time soon.

Sandra LaFleur is a freelance writer living in Toronto ON and has been writing since the age of 15. Ms. LaFleur was raised by her maternal Granny, on the Alexander Cree First Nation. She was returned to bio-mother when she was school age. Ms. LaFleur is an Indigenous activist and works to affect change through her writing. 

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Alamosaurus's picture
The problem is not that all the refugees are terrorists, but that ISIS will probably infiltrate the great body of refugees with its own people. We need some way of separating the legitimate refugees from terrorist infiltrators. I suggested requiring entering refugees to sign an oath that they will not engage in terrorism or violence to two of my friends but was told this approach was impractical as terrorists would probably lie and sign the oath and then commit terror attacks anyway.