The rally cry of “refugees are welcome here” was proclaimed Tuesday in front of Saskatchewan’s legislative building in response to the premier’s letter calling on the federal government to slow down the refugee process.
Premier Brad Wall said that he shares Prime Minister Trudeau’s desire to help refugees, but raised concerns about fast-tracking security screening.
“However, if even a small number of individuals who wish to do harm to our country are able to enter Canada as a result of a rushed refugee resettlement process, the results could be devastating,” Wall wrote in a letter.
Faitun Mohamud joined a crowd of protestors showing support for refugees over the noon hour. She said that the premier is stirring the pot and perpetuating hatred by asking to suspend the refugee plan.
Mohamud believes everyone should be passionate about helping Syrian refugees.
“They have been living in war-torn countries, having to deal with air strikes, children living on the streets, it’s just inhumane conditions,” Mohamud said.
“We as Canadians are so privileged to live in a country where we have freedoms and we can say what we want to say – case in point this rally – and not go to jail for it.”
She agrees that it’s important to be concerned about security, but says that there are already many security checks in place. She wishes more people knew understood the security measures that are already being used to screen refugees.
Kori Baron agrees that raising concerns about security with refugees can be misleading.
“I don’t agree with slowing down on bringing these refugees in. To some refugees that means life or death and I don’t believe in letting these people suffer any longer than they have. Some of these people have been in camps for up to five years,” she said.
Baron says the security comments are being used as a fear tactic. She doesn’t think we should paint all refugees with the same broad brush just because one person could be a terrorist.
She has read up on the issue and understands more about the three-step security screening process in place, including sponsorship by the United Nations.
“There’s so many sources available to us and I just don’t think that people are taking those sources seriously and actually looking at them,” Baron said. “They’ll take a Facebook meme and believe that over actual fact.”
Atiyah Bagha describes the comments on security as fear mongering, saying that she believes Canadian security screening is sufficient and says there’s no reason to make people suffer for longer.
“In the Canadian spirit, I don’t think that we should be turning people away and I don’t think that we should be discriminating against them because of something that they’re running from,” she said.
As the child of immigrant parents, she says she believes in the values of Canadians and doesn’t think the country should be closing borders to people in need. Bagha says people are reacting in fear, but hope is stronger than fear.
Maria Aman came to the rally because she relates personally to the experience of refugees and she wants Syrians to be welcomed to Canada like her family was. Her parents fled violence in their home country of Eritrea.
“Me and my sister were born in Greece, so we lived there as refugees for about three years and then we got resettled in a little town just outside Regina for about a year and we haven’t left since,” she said. “It’s just been such a great place to live and I just hope that the same can happen for the people that are coming in.”
She says so far, the attitudes towards refugees right now don’t reflect her own experience of what Canada is supposed to be like.
Speakers at the rally also talked about the terrorist attacks in Paris being meant to divide people with hatred and fear.