Immigrants make communities stronger

North Battleford Mayor Ryan Bater made an interesting statement during a recent council meeting when he commented on a report delivered by officials from the Battlefords Immigration Resource Centre.

He called immigration a relatable issue because, with the exception of Indigenous people, “all of us are here because somebody immigrated at some point in our family’s past.”

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And, of course, he’s correct. I can trace my roots back to Minnesota and Kansas, and before that to Sweden, Alsace Lorraine and other places in Europe.

My husband, at one time, was keenly interested in genealogy and traced his Scottish roots. When my son and his wife visited Scotland last year they were able to find a sign for “Doig Road.”

Acknowledging the historical fact we are all immigrants is an important step in embracing modern immigration. The leader of the powerful nation to the south has completely lost connection to his country’s history in his campaign to ban immigrants from certain countries and to build a wall to keep illegal immigrants from Mexico out.

Donald Trump’s country and ours was built by immigrants, and sadly, at the expense of Indigenous people. But that’s a topic for another day.

Modern immigration was the subject of a statement released recently by the U.S. Libertarian Party National Committee. The focus of the report was to outline the successes and contributions of Muslin immigrants.

The party’s statement was in reaction to a statement by former radio host Neal Boortz, who tweeted,” “name just ONE country that was improved in ANY WAY by the addition of more Muslims.”

The Libertarian Party contends the United States is one country that has improved.

The missive states:

“Shahpour Nejad and Reza Kalantari, for instance, came to the United States after fleeing Iran. They co-founded Pizza Guys in 1986, a chain that today provides delicious food from more than 60 West Coast locations. Another Iranian immigrant, Hamid Akhavan, has been the CEO of Unify and T-Mobile.

“Famed dancer, pop star and television personality Paula Abdul is the daughter of an immigrant from Syria and Oscar-winning actor F. Murray Abraham is the son of a Syrian immigrant. One of the most successful entrepreneurs of all time, Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, was the son of a Muslim immigrant who also fled oppression in Syria.”

That’s an interesting factoid. I never knew about Jobs’ background.

Closer to home, the local taxi company is owned by immigrants. If you look around you will see individuals from a wide range of cultures working in retail outlets, health care facilities, schools and elsewhere in the community. Many of these are recent immigrants to Canada and Saskatchewan.

The report presented to city council indicated that the 2016 census showed 1,370 people have moved into North Battleford since 2001 and 1,070 of those were non-Canadians.

Embracing Trump’s assertion these people are a threat to our security and a drain on resources is to completely ignore reality and the lessons of history.

Seeing immigrants as a security risk is a false assumption. A story published in the British newspaper The Guardian makes this statement: “In fact, numerous studies have demonstrated that immigrants in the US are less likely to commit crimes than the native-born population.”

I’d be hard-pressed to find any evidence of an immigrant being charged with a crime in this community.

The majority of immigrants come to Canada in search of a better way of life, and to escape oppression and political or religious authoritarianism. Others are simply seeking a better way of life for themselves and their families. Once they have made the decision to move thousands of miles from their roots and families, they are going to work hard to succeed.

And here’s a phenomenon I’ve observed. Immigrants who have become established quickly turn their prosperity toward creating employment opportunities, through entrepreneurship. They create jobs to support more family members who also want to make a better life in Canada.

Far from being a drain on the economy and taking jobs away from established Canadians, they are economic drivers.

A visit to the Battlefords Immigration Resource Centre’s Taste of Culture event hosted annually at the Western Development Museum, serving up ethnic foods from a wide range of cultures, illustrates the diversity of the community.

Add to this the colourful cultural diversity these individuals add to the Battlefords’ multi-cultural fabric and the strength of the community can only grow stronger.

“Diversity is Strength” is the CFL’s pervasive message this season. You can see it proclaimed each week across the chest of Riders coach Chris Jones and other staff members. Whether you are a football fan or not the league’s message, that the country and the league take pride in diversity, rings


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