“My name is James and I am 14. I am an Irish refugee who is trying to flee with my family in order to escape the great famine that has afflicted my country from 1845 to 1849…. My name is Gabriel and I am 28. I am a Haitian asylum seeker trying to escape a miserable life.”
With these parallel stories Norbert Piché, National Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), invites us to reflect on the issue of immigration today (See the full story in the French Jesuit website here). With the electoral campaign in full swing in Quebec, and with the plight of immigrants, as is often the case, taking second place to the deplorable media frenzy and the disturbing election calculations, it is clearly a good moment to take a step back and to look at this situation from a historical perspective. This is the exercise to which Mr. Piché calls us in the latest edition of the magazine Prêtre et Pasteur.
The 21st Century will be marked by two great concerns that are tightly intertwined: first climate change and then the migration of millions of people directly or indirectly linked to climate change. I can assure you that what we are confronting at this moment is only the tip of the iceberg. In the course of the next decades, we will see many more displaced persons around the world. Many of them will want to come to Canada and their survival depends on it. What will our response be?
Highlighting at the same time both the long tradition of welcoming the Other to Canada and to Quebec, and the outburst of xenophobia and antisemitism that have risen up during the history of our country, Norbert calls on our fellow citizens, our fellow believers, and our elected representatives to open their doors and their hearts to millions of men, women, and children fleeing misery and persecution.
“Our politicians are often swayed by the vagaries of public opinion, rather than exercising leadership and acting with probity and dignity, stepping up on the international stage and allowing what is nobler and more beautiful in the human spirit to emerge. So it is up to us to demonstrate leadership and to prevent our politicians from making [short-sighted] decisions,” he says.
Please note that the workshop A Journey into Exile – an activity promoting awareness of the reality of migrants developed by the JRS – will again be offered on October 11, at 4:00 pm, at Laval University in Quebec City, at the Pavillon Félix-Antoine-Savard, Room FAS-140z
Do you want to learn more about vocations to the Society of Jesus? Visit www. BeAJesuit.org for more information.