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That was certainly the case when I arrived in Canada 65 years ago in the first wave of immigrants following the turmoil in Europe after the end of the Second World War. We were the DPs, displaced persons, a term often preceded by a swear word.
If I were to offer advice to those about to arrive, I would say: Just be patient. Canadians eventually come around. Yesterday's outsiders become part of the mainstream. They start successful businesses. Some even rise to join the elites — and then give back to Canada through generous charitable projects.
If I were to counsel Canadians who are wary of receiving today's refugees, I'd tell them: Let's not kid ourselves. Canada needs them. In fact, we have always needed refugees.
This country was built — and changed for the better — by refugees. This was true nearly two centuries ago, when Ireland's potato famine and land clearances in the Scottish Highlands forced more than a million people to our shores. Like the Syrians today, many died from ships sinking, disease and starvation along the way.
You might argue that right now, with the Canadian economy in the doldrums and unemployment at seven per cent, we hardly need more people in the labour market...........................
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