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Letter: Helping refugees is the human thing to do


A refugee camp for displaced Syrians in Turkey.

Recently I have observed some misinformation and various misguided opinions regarding the idea of Barrington and Shelburne attempting to sponsor refugee families.

I feel a story may help in producing some clarity in my argument.

 In a different time in a different nation a war began. It started when the people became fed up with their out of touch ruler. Many in this country rose up. The leader responded by sending his powerful army to subdue the people.

 As more and more died; families split. Brothers killed brothers sisters killed sisters. Some supported the rebels, others wanted things to go back the way they had been.

 Eventually the rebels won and they turned on those who didn't fight for them. They subjected these people to unimaginable torture. They boiled them alive in pitch, burned them, shot fathers in front of daughters and sons in front of mothers. 

 These people needed to flee. They ran to the one last city still held by their dear leader. They lived in fear, desperation, and abject poverty. 

 Eventually the former leader offered to sponsor those who remained loyal to him. He found a place they could live under his rule once again. They would no longer have to live in tents.

 But there was some difficulty. People who lived in this new land were barely consulted. "We can't let these people live here they aren't like us!" they protested. 

 "Send them somewhere else!" said others. 

 "My taxes aren't going to pay for these cowards! They should have fought harder!" said another in the capital of this land. 

 That summer those refugees piled into dozens of ships and headed for their new home. Some were rich and comfortable, others had less than nothing. 

 The ships arrived on the shores of the new land and despite the protests from the capital; they began to cut streets out of the forests and set up homes and businesses.

Some of these people didn't share the same religion as the capital. Some of the refugees didn't have the same color of skin. This caused trouble for the refugees, but in the end they built a community. Their culture became part of the capital and many realized they had far more in common than not.

The refugees were refugees no more. They were home.

 Who were these people who fled the land? Syrians? Sudanese?

No. They were American Loyalists who stuck by King George in the American Revolution.

These people were loyalists. These people were REFUGEES, these people were us. This new land they sought? Nova Scotia. The capital filled with many who felt nothing but contempt for the refugees? Halifax. 

 If you are the descendant of the Loyalists (like myself) you were born of refugee blood. None of us here can judge what horrors the families in Syria, the Sudan, or other refugee nations have endured. 

 I have heard such phrases as "We need to take care of our own." I can understand such sentiments, however poverty, like all things, is relative. We do, in fact, take care of our own. We have food banks, welfare, and benefits. Often it may not be enough. The difference is people here may go hungry, but almost none of them starve. People may get thirsty but none of them die of thirst.

Despite our problems, to bring a refugee family here is the right thing to do.

It's the human thing to do.

D. Seth Renaud


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