Open Arms – by Lesley Apelbaum

December 16, 2015

My Grandfather was born in Poland in 1920. He grew up in a period where discrimination and violence against Jews was escalating with the implementation of anti-Semitic laws. When Nazi Germany annexed western Poland at the beginning of WWII, his brothers and sisters split up. Two went to France. Another went to Palestine. My Grandfather fled to the eastern side of Poland under Russian control. His eldest brother died of starvation and the rest of his family was killed.

He continued on until he was captured by the Soviet secret police and brought to a camp in Siberia. Near the end of the war he was released from the camp to fight in the Polish army. They stationed him the Middle East.

After the war he settled in Palestine and married my Grandmother. She gave birth to my father in 1948, the same year the state of Israel was formed and the eruption of the Arab-Israeli war. They left for France, where they waited for their Canadian VISA application to be approved. The rest is a happy history.

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Refugees come to Canada on a regular basis – women escaping honour killings; gay, lesbian and transgender people escaping sexual violence and imprisonment; people escaping racial, religious and political persecution. Every generation of Canadians have also accepted high numbers of refugees in times of international crisis displaced persons following WWII, Czech refugees escaping Soviet invasion in the late 1960’s, Vietnamese boat people starting in the late 1970’s, Bosnian Muslims escaping the Yugoslav Civil War in the early 1990’s. Our generation is now proudly embracing the Syrian refugees.

On the arrival of Syrian refugees in Toronto last week, Justin Trudeau gave this statement:

“This is something we’re able to do in this country because we define a Canadian not by a skin colour or a language or a religion or a background, but by a shared set of values, aspirations, hopes and dreams that not just Canadians but people around the world share.”

At Road to Possible we’re proud that all people have the opportunity to pursue their hopes, dreams and ambitions here in Canada. We’re proud that during the refugee crisis we’re opening our hearts once again to thousands of Syrians escaping extraordinarily brutal circumstances. So here’s to our continued policy of open arms. We give a warm welcome to all the incoming refugees, our new permanent residents and future Canadians who will contribute to our Canadian fabric, our nation’s diversity and strength.

Justin Trudeau

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