'Innocent people are the most devastated': STU prof calls on Canada to welcome refugees
Published Tuesday, September 15, 2015 12:29PM ADT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 15, 2015 12:31PM ADT
As the refugee crisis intensifies in Europe, Canada is coming under increasing scrutiny for its lack of action so far.
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians are seeking asylum after fleeing civil war in their country, and while Ottawa’s actions are pending, pressure is mounting from the provinces and municipalities.
“The Canadian public are not very happy with the Canadian response,” says Brad Woodside, the mayor of Fredericton and past president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
Last week, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities approved a recommendation calling on Ottawa to coordinate the efforts of communities across the country to amplify the effectiveness of the response to the refugee crisis.
“I know that there’s churches here, I know that there’s people doing it,” says Woodside. “What we need is, we need a clearing house, we need rules in place, regulations in place, and how to do this in a more controlled effort.”
For Aamir Jamal, the images of thousands of Syrians pouring into Europe are a painful reminder. Jamal remembers when Afghans escaping Taliban rule flooded into his native country of Pakistan.
“It just took me back to my world, when I’ve seen families and women and children crossing the border of Afghanistan,” says Jamal, who is now a professor at St. Thomas University.
“They are the most innocent people and the most innocent people are the most devastated people.”
Jamal and other staff and faculty at St. Thomas University are now working to help the refugee crisis through private sponsorship.
He says bringing one or two refugee families to Canada may be a small act, but it’s one he hopes is part of a comprehensive effort.
“Most important thing is that we all also play a key role in the political impact, and basically tell our government that you are not doing enough, that this is not how Canada should lead this issue.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Andy Campbell