In sol­i­dar­ity with those who face dis­crim­i­na­tion

The Hamilton Spectator - - HAMILTON BUSINESS - CHRIS FARIAS Chris Farias is part­ner and vice-pres­i­dent, cre­ative devel­op­ment, at KITESTRING. He loves #HamOnt and is proud to sup­port his com­mu­nity. Fol­low Chris on Twit­ter at @KITESTRING.

“ON THE BOATS and on the planes, they’re com­ing to Amer­ica. Never look­ing back again, they’re com­ing to Amer­ica.”

In 1985, this Neil Di­a­mond hit was my favourite song. Some­where there’s a VHS tape of me lip sync­ing to it with a wooden spoon for a mi­cro­phone. As a kid who grew up near a bor­der city, our fam­ily was in the States ev­ery other week­end. It was a truly magical place. The land of the free and home of the brave.

The U.S.A. has changed sig­nif­i­cantly in the past 30 years — and even more in the past 30 days. The new gov­ern­ment has deemed it fit to ban cer­tain re­li­gions and races from en­ter­ing the coun­try. Many peo­ple have halted their va­ca­tions and trips un­til things get bet­ter, or at least un­til there is more clar­ity on what is re­ally go­ing on. But what hap­pens when you have to go to Amer­ica for busi­ness?

I had a speak­ing gig booked for April, in Cal­i­for­nia — a very blue state. The or­ga­ni­za­tion I’m speak­ing for is amaz­ing — the es­sen­tial work they do for their com­mu­ni­ties is in­spir­ing. It’s a great op­por­tu­nity for my com­pany and me. Fur­ther­more, be­ing a white male would prob­a­bly elim­i­nate a lot of the prob­lems with cross­ing the bor­der. So why should I be con­cerned?

I asked my fi­ancé what he thought of me trav­el­ling to the U.S. and his re­sponse cleared ev­ery­thing up for me, “I don’t think you or I would have any prob­lems cross­ing over into the US. But if we think our friends or fel­low Cana­di­ans might have le­git­i­mate fears about try­ing to cross the bor­der, then we shouldn’t go ei­ther.”

For me, the best thing about be­ing Cana­dian is that we look af­ter one an­other — with our so­cial ser­vices, com­mu­nity pro­grams and health­care system. That’s Canada. Ev­ery per­son is go­ing to have to make the de­ci­sion to cross the bor­der or not for them­selves. And as long as peo­ple are be­ing has­sled be­cause of the colour of their skin or their re­li­gion, I won’t go.

Em­ploy­ees at my com­pany may still travel there for busi­ness, if the de­ci­sion is right for them. It’s a per­sonal choice, and for me, un­til Lady Lib­erty opens her arms once again and em­braces ev­ery­one, I won’t be vis­it­ing my friends to the south — for busi­ness or plea­sure.

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