CALGARY, AB (September 8, 2015): Dr. David Swann issued the following statement:
“In the past week, Canadians learned of and witnessed several heart wrenching media accounts of Syrian refugees fleeing for safety from their war-torn homeland. Many of us saw the haunting image of young Aylan Kurdi, the drowned Syrian toddler, and shared the pain of his distraught and inconsolable father. Thousands of other refugees could no doubt recount similar stories of personal tragedy.
“And while Canada can sometimes feel very far removed from international crises such as this, it is not hard to imagine the horror, fear and desperation that so many families are now experiencing. The world, once so large, is in many ways much smaller now. Indeed, many of us recall the sad plight of the Vietnamese boat people, and how our nation stepped up to welcome so many with open arms.
“When an event such as that is viewed through the prism of today, the complete inadequacy of our federal government’s response under Stephen Harper is both painfully obvious and profoundly disappointing. Precious few countries on this planet have the means and the wherewithal to be a safe harbour in the tempest, and yet our federal government’s response is underwhelming at best – so much so that this effectively amounts to an abdication of who we are as a nation.
It is because of this that I am appealing to my fellow Canadians to once again step up and demonstrate to the world that we are a caring and resourceful people. Get involved. Contact a local charity or non-profit that you know can facilitate refugee sponsorship, or consider sponsoring a refugee along with your friends or faith community. If you do so, know that you will be saving a life.
“In my time as a physician working in South Africa, the Philippines and Iraq, I saw firsthand the dire consequences of when public policy fails to protect people. In such times, the only thing that people have is our common humanity.
“In the past Canada has often been a leader in helping those who are fleeing persecution or violence. Together, we can make a difference again.”