Refugee series struck a chord with me
RE: Spectator refugee series
I was moved by the excellent article by Steve Buist on refugees entering Canada. It was meaningful to me, since my parents came as refugees after The Second World War, fleeing the Russian invasion of the Baltic States. They escaped in a fishing boat to Finland with only a small suitcase of photographs. They made their way to Canada, and I was lucky enough to be born here.
My cousin was not as fortunate. My uncle and family were hounded into cattle cars and sent to Siberia. For 13 years they lived and worked under harsh conditions, which many did not survive.
When they were finally able to find a way home, my uncle had contracted tuberculosis. He died a year later and my cousin grew up “behind the Iron Curtain” under communist rule. My life has turned out very differently from hers, simply because my parents, through steadfast effort, were able to start a new life in Canada.
We, who have enjoyed safe lives full of opportunity, cannot easily comprehend what drives refugees to leave everything they have ever known behind and take the chance of coming to a foreign country to start over. It is fair to say that the reasons must be dire, and, not infrequently, life-threatening.
Let’s honour the spirit of our amazing country by welcoming them, by letting their courage inspire us, by helping them to gain a foothold toward becoming selfsupporting, and by never forgetting how tenuous freedom truly is. Tiina Kaigas Powles