I woke up this morning and nothing had changed.
Canada, or the part of it I could see out the window, was unchanged. The larger Canada, the one that I hold in my heart that looks remarkably like the map from the grade 5 classroom with the provinces all different colours, was also unchanged.
The Canada, outside my window, looked just as welcoming, just as safe and just as free as it did when I went to bed last night.
The Canada, I hold in my heart, looked as if the map had been dusted and as if the colours were a little brighter, but has essentially not changed.
On the news this morning I saw that the Syrian refugees had landed in Toronto, only a few kilometres from my home, from where I sit and look out at Canada. I saw Prime Minister Trudeau and Premier Kathleen Wynne there welcoming the refugees. A camera catches our Prime Minister shaking someone’s hand and saying, ‘Welcome home.’ To another, I see him leaning down and listening, his face goes grave, I don’t know what was said to him, his voice, soft, “You are safe now.”
I am aware of the increase of Islamophobia here at home in Canada because of the refugee crisis. I have overheard the conversations about ‘taking care of our own first’ … conversations had over coffees that could fund a family of 5 for a week in countries desperate for help. People predicted that Canada would ‘feel different,’ would be ‘made different,’ would have our ‘values disrespected.’
That last one always struck me funny. It’s those who would lock the door that are disrespecting Canada’s values, not those who would enter.
So, they’ve come. So more will come.
And Canada is just the same as it was last night, just the same as before the tires touched the tarmac, just the same as it’s always been.
“Welcome home. You are safe now.”
I woke up and nothing had changed. Canada was still Canada, and I am so incredibly proud of that.