By Michael Casey
OSCRS was invited to participate in the recent CBC Radio “United for Refugees” event, the 2015 version of the annual Project Give fundraiser. Although the final donation total remains a bit of a mystery it appears that the event has raised well in excess of $220,000. These funds are to be allocated to various activities supporting refugee settlement in Ottawa. We were pleased at the opportunity to activly participate as guests in the live audience of the very popular afternoon All In A Day program hosted by Alan Neal.
The program itself was filled with wonderful stories of refugees who had made their way to Canada and, after some struggle, had found it in their hearts to call this city their home. We all have benefited from what each had brought to our collective table.
The story of Canada is a story of how waves of refugees arrive here, struggle to find their place, grow to call this home and open their hearts and homes to the next wave of peoples who find their lives turned upside down and are driven to escape.
Whether you can trace your heritage back to, say the Irish who fled starvation in their homeland 170 years ago, or South East Asians who fled terror in leaking ships, or whoever, we all – save the First Nations people – came from somewhere else, often leaving under extreme duress. We are all refugees.
Many of the stories told were harrowing, like the plight of the 8 year old girl on a sinking ship off the coast of Viet Nam confronted by pirates stealing whatever riches they could. That girl, now a successful Ottawa woman full of life and fullsome with her support for this next wave of refugees. Another special story broadcast during the event was from our own Old Ottwa South barber Ali Sultan who escaped from Iraq. Ali is offering free haircuts to refugees.
We are blessed with these people who live amonst us. They inspire us to be better Canadians and what could be better than that?