Submitted by: Frank Soberg
The new 2016 census has arrived just before we celebrate Canada Day. Canada is a country of 35,11,728 people. It is projected to take in 300,000 immigrants this year. Compared to the United States we take in .85 percent of our population versus the .30 percent the United States takes in.
A good example of Canada’s ongoing engagement is our response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Prime Minister Trudeau received international praise at the United Nations General Assembly in September. We have resettled over 40,000 Syrian refugees in Canada. Many have been privately sponsored by Churches and other humanitarian organizations around the nation.
Our Immigration and Refugee history has shown some exemplary commitments in response to world conflict and the exile of those afflicted by its consequences.
Just to mention a few:
•After a long and protracted conflict in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia with the mass destruction of villages and lives, Canada resettled more than 60,000 refugees with approximately half of them through private sponsorship. In 1986, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees took the unprecedented step of awarding its prestigious Nansen medal to the people of Canada for their compassionate response to the Indochina Refugee Crisis.
•Between 1945 and 1949 in the wake of the second World War, millions of displaced Ukrainians sought refuge in Western Europe and North America. Between 35,000 and 40,000 Ukrainians settled in Canada; this in large part due to the lobbying efforts of Canadian-Ukrainians who had come to Canada earlier in the 20th Century. Ukrainian immigration peaked in 1949 and by 1951 there were nearly 400,00 Ukrainians in Canada. In 2011, there were an estimated 1,251,170 persons of full or partial Ukrainian origin residing in Canada.
•The United States coalition invaded Iraq and toppled the government of Saddam Hussein. Up to 600,000 Iraqis were killed and more than 2 million were forced to flee. As part of a multi-year commitment by the end of 2015 Canada has resettled more than 25,000 Iraqi refugees.
Canada is often referred to as a land of immigrants because millions of newcomers have settled here and helped to build and defend our way of life. With over 20 percent of the population foreign-born, and with more than 250 ethnic origins, Canada is one of the world’s most multicultural societies. As we approach our 150th anniversary of confederation, let’s celebrate this diversity that is Canada and why we are the “true north strong and free”.