Hope, Opportunity and Freedom - The Right of all People

Hope, Opportunity and Freedom - The Right of all People

At 9.14am, on Friday, September 4th 2015, my wife Sue became a Canadian Citizen. The ceremony took place in the Harry Hays building in Calgary and 90 new citizens, men and women, boys and girls, from 30 countries, were sworn in. I was one of a number of family and friends who applauded at the end of the singing of “O Canada”. The excitement in the room was palpable and everyone had huge smiles as they headed out the building. As Sue and I drove home, I mentioned to her that, as I was waiting for the ceremony to begin they had showed a video montage about Canada. It included scenes from Niagara Falls, skiing in the Rockies, First Nation peoples participating in a traditional dance and a lone skater traversing a frozen lake.

The other thing it showed was three words: Hope, Opportunity and Freedom and this got me thinking. The plight of the Syrian refugees has been harrowing and the death of Alan aged 3, Ghalib aged 5 and their mother Rehenna has hit a nerve around the world. Their situation was untenable as they tried to move around Syria and get away from the looting, urban warfare and barrel bombs. Their final desperate act was to go to Turkey’s Aegean coast and pay human smugglers to get them over to the Greek Island of Kos. The family joined seven others and boarded a flimsy dingy. They were fitted out with what looked like life jackets but they were all fake, they wouldn’t float. They headed out but only 500m from shore they hit choppy water and the boat capsized.

Hope, Opportunity and Freedom is the right of all people. Tyranny and oppression must be overthrown but until it is the repressed must be helped and that is a global responsibility. I was born in England and moved to Canada in 1977. In both countries there’s Hope, Opportunity and Freedom but I didn’t choose where I was born. It was only through the grace of God that I ended up where I did and it’s the same for all of us. I have a grandson, Nathan, who is 5 years old, the same age as Ghalib when he died. I know what he would want me to do.

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