Celebrating diversity and the tradition of welcome this holiday season

This holiday season, the Canadian Council for Refugees invites Canadians to rejoice in the ways in which our communities and our own lives are enriched by welcoming newcomers.

Over the past year, tens of thousands of children, women and men who have lived through unspeakable horrors have found refuge and a safe home here. All who played a part in welcoming refugees have been reminded that we gain most when we give to others.

Around the world, the past year has been marked by a rise in violence and intolerance. In Canada too, there have been many ugly incidents of racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia. Indigenous Peoples continue to suffer prejudice and injustice.

But Canadians also have deep commitments to fairness and to diversity. We have the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as a foundation to protect human rights. From centuries ago, when the First Peoples welcomed newcomers, we have  – although often imperfectly – acted upon our traditions of openness to different cultures, of taking care of each other and of building relationships.

These are the strengths that at our best make us who we are. They are strengths that are reinforced when we protect refugees and celebrate our diversity. We see the hope for who we want to be in our children and youth, such as the choir of Syrian refugee children who sing their joy in Canada and their memories of the country left behind. We see the same hope in the youth born here, who work for a Canada that embraces and values newcomers.