By Harsha Walia (September 3, 2015)
Until two years ago, i would never understand why it took the death of children to call up our sense of humanity. But now as a new mother, I get it. I totally get it. There is something inexplicable, undoubtedly selfish, about seeing lifeless bodies of young children and being so grateful to have our children next to us. Safe. Alive.
And you can’t stop the tears from flowing for hours when you see parents over the bodies of their little ones. I’ll be honest, words are hard to muster right now and mostly I have lots of tears for the Kurdi family. I know they are useless but they’re there. For Aylan Kurdi, for Galip and their mother, Rehan.
I can’t muster words, but I also share in our collective rage. Rage that Minister Alexander refused their application to come to Canada despite it being hand delivered to him. Rage that the family had to make a *private* sponsorship instead of the government welcoming refugees. Rage that not just one political party but that all political parties in this country – this country founded on Indigenous lands – continue settler-colonial practices of domination and hierarchy and exclusion. Rage that most Canadians believe refugees are terrorists, undesirable, unwelcome. Rage that most Canadians have no context for living in war zones, have no context for deep poverty, for trauma, for running from bombs and still feel they can judge whether others are ‘legitimate’ refugees or not. Rage that Canada is not only complicit in refugee exclusion, but also complicit in creating massive displacement around the world. Rage that Canada believes it is fighting a righteous civilizing mission in Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Rage that refugees are blamed for their own death, just as women are blamed for rape.
It’s been over fifteen years of seeing hundreds of loved ones being jailed, being torn apart from their families, being forced underground with access to no services, being ripped off at their workplaces, being forced back to possible death, being forced to take their own lives in migrant detention dungeons. It’s time Canada wakes up from it’s drunk multicultural hangover and sees the immense misery, immense indignity, immense racism. And let’s do something about it, because we can. This is not inevitable. I return to the words of Eduardo Galeano “The world was born yearning to be a home for everyone.”