As Executive Director of Rainbow Railroad, I receive requests for help every day from lesbian, gay and trans (LGBT) individuals who are fighting for their lives because who they are is criminalized. Many of them face terrible violence and persecution and the police and governments in many of these regions not only tolerate but encourage this brutality.
For many of the individuals who contact us, Canada’s reputation as a safe place for LGBT people and a welcoming place to refugees is a source of hope and inspiration. I am proud of the steps that the Canadian Government, civil society and private citizens have taken to welcome refugees to our country. I strongly believe that we need to keep Canada’s doors open now and into the future so that we can deliver on the hope we inspire in those who are forced to flee human rights abuses.
I encourage everyone who can to make a gesture to welcome refugees in their community. This can take many forms, from privately sponsoring a refugee, to volunteering at a local settlement organization or helping to raise funds for the cause. Not only will this help a newcomer to in your community, but, if you’re anything like me, you’ll find it to be an incredibly rewarding experience.
I’ve personally worked with a small group of friends to sponsor two refugees to be resettled to Canada over the last few years and am now awaiting the arrival of a third person. Through this experience I’ve build friendships, gained perspective on the lived experience of a refugee, and encouraged others to get involved. I feel proud to have taken a small step to help keep Canada’s doors open now and into the future.