Congratulations, you’ve sponsored a Syrian refugee

by | Feb 4, 2016 | City News, Opinion

Sam Juric

Canadians are saving the lives of Syrian refugees.

Haven’t you heard how generous and hospitable we are? We’re heroes, if you really think about it. We endure the merciless frigid Canadian winter in shorts and t-shirts without flinching, we are polite and apologetic to the point of nausea and we help disenfranchised Syrians escape an existence rife with violence and terror to boot.

We will accept medals, cookies and gold stars for our job well done.

We are making a difference as we bombard Syrian refugees, arriving at Pearson Airport, with our burning questions, ‘What does it feel like to finally be on Canadian soil?’ ‘What was it like to be living in war-torn Syria?’ We fumble with our recording equipment as we try to capture the journalistic equivalent to pure, solid gold: a picture of Justin Trudeau and a refugee family.

Sitting in our living rooms, we need to have the instant gratification of seeing the tired, sunken eyes of real-life Syrian refugees illuminated by cameras flashing unrelentingly. We need to see the fruits of our labour!

We are saving lives when we forgo extravagant and entirely unnecessary $40,000 weddings. It’s a sacrifice to get married at City Hall and we will document it in the form of posed photographs with Mayor John Tory who was there to tell us how great we are.

This isn’t the same as privileged white volunteers smiling for cameras with starving African orphans clustered around them on voluntourism trips. We aren’t exploiting disenfranchised people. No…we’re saving lives.

This is also in no way to be confused with all those times the world’s wealthiest people returned from trips to Malawi or Cambodia with souvenirs in the form of traumatized children of war. Cough. Madonna. Cough, Angelina. No…Syrian refugees are of all ages and they are delivered in cute family-sized packages. If you are lucky, some families come with adorable babies as well.

Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton who? Refugees are the new status symbol.

Groups of two aren’t as ideal to sponsor. Families make for nicer pictures and are a wealth of entertainment. Mothers accompanied by teenagers aren’t as exciting to sponsor. Don’t worry about them. They’ll figure it out.

Don’t think about the ‘what-ifs’.

What if we’re incompatible and the sponsorship disrupts? What kind of insurance plan does the government have in place should disrupted sponsorships occur? Where will they go?

What if we’re sponsoring for the wrong reasons? What if sponsoring doesn’t have anything to do with how good it makes us feel about ourselves? What if Syrian refugees are actually people and not political tools to be used by the Prime Minister to steer the eyes of Canadians away from the glaring issues of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement or Bill C-51? Don’t worry ’bout it!

Instead, we should film ourselves with our brand new Syrian refugee in tow, sledding down a glistening hill of fresh snow. Super Canadian, eh? Even better: we’ll play Jimmy Cliff’s 1993 classic, I Can See Clearly Now in the background of the video. Everyone will be so proud of the work we’ve done. To make sure as many people as possible can offer us a pat on the back, we’ll post it on YouTube. We deserve it. This will be the story mythologized at dinner tables across Canada for years to come.

After all, we are Canadian and we are saving Syrian lives. The least they can say is, thank you.