“We stand together, or we fail.” António Guterres, Secretary-General, UN Secretary-General
Could you do it? Could you grab a single bag of belongings and your family and leave. Now. Just leave. With little money. No documentation. No real plan. Could you do it? Armed only with the hope of a better life awaiting you. Would you go?
Each day, this is the decision thousands of people make. Whether due to war, famine or political persecution, they begin a long and arduous journey to start life again. Somewhere better.
This, unfortunately, isn’t a new phenomenon. World War II saw many refugees come to Canada. Our borders have been open and we’ve been, generally speaking, welcoming. And two years ago when we heard the cry for help from those fleeing the Syrian conflict, Canada answered once again.
Which is why, for many of us, the recent happenings at American borders hit so close to home. We learned that not only were people being denied entry but that families were literally, being torn apart. Families who left with little to nothing, but each other, fuelled by a whole lot of hope, now losing it all.
Ironically enough, the separation policy in America also coincided with World Refugee Day. Perhaps this made it easier for many to declare that they stood #WithRefugees. From posts of petitions being signed to local events, many around the world decided to act. They stood up, spoke out and pushed back, proudly declaring that #HeartBeatsHate.
Despite the American administration’s release of a reversal of their separation policies, we need to stay mindful and vigilant. We need to speak for those who others would have silenced. We need to think only how we would want to be treated - or even remember how our own families, friends and colleagues were treated.
If you had to leave everything behind, with only the hope of something better, could you do it?