Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace


Posted by strattof on November 12, 2015

Back in early September, the door to Canada was almost closed to refugees. That’s when the body of three-year-old Alan Kurdi was found washed up on a beach. Alan had drowned, along with his brother and mother, while trying to reach Greece in a rubber dinghy. The family had fled the war in Syria with the hope of eventually coming to Canada.

Today, the door to Canada is open a little bit wider. Kudos to our new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his pledge to bring 25,000 government-sponsored Syrian refugees to Canada by year’s end.

Don’t listen to the naysayers. Past experience shows that when there is a will there is a way.

Once the 25,000 Syrian refugees have been settled, let’s open the door to refugees even wider.


  • 1933 – 1948: In June 1939, Canada refused entry to 937 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany, turning their ship, the SS St. Louis, back to Europe. A third of the ship’s passengers ended up being murdered in the Nazi death camps. From 1933 – 1948, “none is too many” was the response of the Canadian government to Jewish asylum seekers.
  • 1956 – 1957: Canada accepted 37,000 Hungarian refugees.
  • 1979 – 1980: Canada accepted 50,000 Vietnamese “boat people.” By 1985, 110,000 Vietnamese refugees had resettled in Canada.
  • 1999: Canada airlifted 5,000 Kosovo refugees to Canada.
  • 2013 – October 2015: The Harper government’s primary response to the Syrian refugee crisis was to make anti-Muslim racist statements. Clearly intended to arouse fear, the statements were reminiscent of the “none is too many” rhetoric of the 1930s and 40s.
  • November 2015 – : 000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year is a good start. Germany, a geographically much smaller country than Canada, has said it can take 500,000 Syrian refugees a year. 


  1. Today there are 19.5 million refugees worldwide.
  2. Another 38.2 million people are displaced within their own countries.
  3. 51% of today’s refugees are children, the highest figure for child refugees in more than a decade.
  4. Syria and Afghanistan are the world’s top source countries for refugees.
  5. The majority of refugees (86%) are hosted by poor countries.
  6. Lebanon has the most refugees per capita ‒ about one refugee for every four inhabitants. Next comes Jordan, then Chad.
  7. Contrary to Stephen Harper’s claim, Canada ranks 41st, not 1st, in terms of refugees per capita.
  8. Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees: 1.6 million, most of whom are from Syria. Pakistan comes 2nd, with most of its refugees coming from Afghanistan.


The majority of today’s refugees are fleeing wars that have been caused, directly or indirectly, by western foreign policy. The emergence of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, for example, is a direct result of the 2003 US-led occupation of Iraq.

The Good News:

  • Canada is no longer participating in air strikes against ISIS.
  • On October 30, Syria peace talks finally got underway, with many (but not all) of the parties involved in the conflict present at the table.

The Bad News:

  • Instead of dropping bombs on Iraq and Syria, Canadian forces will be training local troops to fight ISIS. In other words, Canada will be training Iraqis and Syrians to kill other Iraqis and Syrians.

The Syrian war will NOT be resolved by bombs and guns. Bombs and guns simply create more refugees.


  • Congratulate Prime Minister Trudeau on his decision to stop Canadian bombing raids against ISIS. Also let him know you want him to be a Prime Minister for peace; and that you look forward to the day when all the world’s nations seek non-violent negotiated settlements to conflicts as a first option: or 613-992-4211.
  • Read Lawrence Hill’s The Illegal, a new novel about refugees.
  • We all need to consider what we can do to make refugees welcome in Regina.

HOME, an excerpt, by Somali poet Warsan Shire 

No one leaves home unless

Home is the mouth of a shark

You only run for the border

When you see the whole city running as well


You have to understand

That no one puts their children in a boat

Unless the water is safer than the land

No one burns their palms

Under trains

Beneath carriages

No one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck

Feeding on newspaper unless the miles traveled

Mean something more than the journey

No one crawls under fences

No one wants to be beaten


Read all of this powerful poem:


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