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What newcomers bring to the table

When a colourful sports commentator insulted immigrants by calling us “those people”, accusing us of not wearing poppies, he was dead wrong.

And when his comments caused a furor and he tried to backtrack by saying that he did not mean immigrants, he lied.

If you actually heard his comments and looked at the text in which he ranted against and “othered” us he very definitely meant us:

“You people that come here... whatever it is, you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you could pay a couple of bucks for a poppy.”

And let’s not forget that, astoundingly, his co-host gave him a thumbs-up! True bigotry has a way of coming out.

This bombastic sports announcer needs to go into a school on Remembrance Day and look into the eyes of children of immigrants wearing poppies and passionately participating in Remembrance Day ceremonies.

And he needs to dig deep into his heart and find some shred of dignity to face the immigrant parents who wear their poppies solemnly to honour the sacrifices of soldiers who defended our democracy and made Canada the beautiful country that it is.

There are many ordinary, Canadian-born minority citizens as well as new Canadians who have contributed significantly to Canada.

Their accomplishments, service, research, discoveries, volunteer-ism and community service quietly shine brightly above the din of nonsensical blabber from loudmouths who yell insults into media microphones. 

We all remember our beloved Dr Sheela Basrur who served as Chief Medical Officer of Health during the awful SARS outbreak in Toronto in 2003.

A tiny, but powerful person, she worked tirelessly to serve and protect our population against a dreaded disease.

And from our history lessons, who can forget Dr. Emily Stowe (May 1, 1831 -April 30, 1903) who was black and the first female physician to practise in Canada.

As a suffragette, she worked tirelessly for women’s rights and to achieve our country’s first medical college for women in the early twentieth century.

William Hall (April 28, 1827- August 27, 1904), son of Black slaves in Nova Scotia, won the Victoria Cross for bravery while serving in the Royal Canadian Navy.

Dr David Suzuki is a Japanese Canadian and a passionate environmentalist who has dedicated his life to saving Canada’s ecosystem without which the very existence of human life as we know it is threatened.

Raymond Chang, a Jamaican-Canadian philanthropist contributes volunteer hours and significant donations to arts, culture and healthcare in Canada.

Chinese Canadian scientists are contributing to Canada in significant ways.

Take Dr. Thomas Chang who invented the first artificial cell to carry haemoglobin to correct blood disorders; or the pioneering work of Dr. Tak Wah Mak in cancer treatment; or astronomer Bill Yeung’s pursuit and discovery of asteroids. Syrian Canadians have contributed to Canada in many ways.

Rene Angelil ushered Canada’s international star Celine Dion into world fame; Paul Anka is Canada’s darling singer/songwriter; or a very recent Syrian refugee, Ahmad Abed, who was helped by the large-hearted Canadian philanthropist Jim Estill to open his own shop and is now starting to help other people in need – a work in progress yet a work of hope and positivity.

That message of hope is what we need to nurture.

Raging against immigrants from a podium of privilege is both cowardly and unpatriotic.

Canada is a country of immigrants, first built by indigenous people and then by millions of immigrants from all over the world.

This is our collective Canada, an intricate quilt of unique tapestries, threaded together stitch by stitch from thousands of years ago to the present day.

– Dr Vicki Bismilla  

Posted: Jan 4, 2020

May 2020

Centennial College

Immigration Peel Canada

© CanadaBound Immigrant 2016