Under a Northern Sky – Don’t be Fooled by Hate

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Syrian children shelter in the doorway of a house, amid gunfire and shelling, in a city affected by the conflict. Photo: UNICEF/NYHQ2012-0218/Alessio Romenzi
Syrian children shelter in the doorway of a house, amid gunfire and shelling, in a city affected by the conflict. Photo: UNICEF/NYHQ2012-0218/Alessio Romenzi

Syrian children shelter in the doorway of a house, amid gunfire and shelling, in a city affected by the conflict. Photo: UNICEF/NYHQ2012-0218/Alessio Romenzi
Syrian children shelter in the doorway of a house, amid gunfire and shelling, in a city affected by the conflict. Photo: UNICEF/NYHQ2012-0218/Alessio Romenzi

THUNDER BAY – LIVING – Recently, I have heard a lot of comments on the fact that we are welcoming many refugees from Syria. This topic is very popular in many local coffee shops and places where people meet throughout Northern and Southern Ontario. Sadly, I hear a lot of hatred and mean comments from people and that disappoints me.

I am not really surprised at these negative comments about the arrival of refugees from Syria as I have heard nasty chatting about First Nation people like myself for many years. When right wing governments and organizations want to stir up trouble they always seem to resort to pushing hate buttons on topics that turn normally nice people into hate mongers. The sad part is that this actually works to a great degree.

However, thankfully, most Canadians see through this fanning of hate and remain open, tolerant and kind. We all live in a very wonderful country and we are lucky to have such a great democracy where people can live safe and productive lives. The thing is that we have to stand up to hatred and intolerance when we see it rise up because that kind of sentiment really leads to allowing governments and powerful right wing organizations to take us all down a path to fascism. I don’t think most of us would want to go in that direction.

I have seen over the years that when governments want to divert attention from their own bad deeds they point the finger at the most vulnerable in society who have a difficult time fighting back. I have watched mean spirited governments focus blame and negative comments on the poor, the mentally ill, drug addicted persons, non white cultures and of course First Nation people. When you do a little research you learn that these same governments and organizations are terrible at running provinces or countries and actually have put Canada in a very negative situation in terms of debt not to mention their countless corruption issues.

For too many years I have watched while our governments make life better for the very wealthy on the backs of the middle class and poor. I feel guilty that we have allowed our governments to bomb people in far off countries and that has resulted in the deaths and injuries of thousands upon thousands. Did we all have blinders on? Was there some strange reason that we stood by and allowed things to go so terribly wrong in this world and our country? Why have so many of us joined the hate bandwagon?

We must all realize that the Syrian refugees that are coming to Canada are leaving their country because we and many other countries have been bombing the heck out of Syria for some time now. The country’s cities and towns are being demolished, infrastructure and even hospitals have been destroyed and there are few safe places for people to live. I commend Justin Trudeau and the Liberals and also the opposition NDP for taking us back from war and providing a safe place for Syrian refugees to settle.

We need to keep Canada a democracy that is open, peace loving and committed to making the world a better place. I fear that if we get lazy with this mission then we will pay for it. As a matter of fact it will be our future generations that will pay for it as they may have to live in a world that is full of hatred, intolerance and violence. We should be dedicating our best efforts to assisting other less fortunate countries to have better quality of life and safety. That way we would be helping them to create an environment they would not want to run away from. Just because we want their resources and we are prepared to take them by violent means does not mean we are right in doing so. Might is not right.

I appeal to my First Nation family and friends across the country to keep strong and stand tall for a better world, our waters, land and people all over this Mother Earth. I also appeal to everyone else to remember that they also come from origins of refugees. Most people that immigrated to Canada did so because they wanted a better life and to develop a democratic, free and safe place for their families. We are all refugees in one way or another and we should keep that in mind before condemning the Syrian children, mom’s, dad’s, grandmothers and grandfathers. If you believe in any religion on this earth and in the goodness of humanity then it is important to remember that hatred is evil.

We are better than that.

Xavier Kataquapit

Under A Northern Sky