#RestoreHope Campaign

by New Brunswick Multicultural Council
November 19, 2015

#RestoreHope is a space for you to declare your support and solidarity with the Syrian refugees coming to New Brunswick. With the Government of Canada’s recent release of plans to bring in 25,000 refugees by the end of February 2016 – with initial arrivals expected in the coming weeks, resettlement agencies and communities across the province are preparing to ensure a warm welcome to our province!

#RestoreHope is not only an online campaign, it is a movement. We want to engage New Brunswickers in rolling out the welcome mat and share the message that we are a province where kindness, generosity and hope thrives. Now is time for us to remember our roots, our motto, and to make it real once again. 

Here are 8 reasons you should #RestoreHope:  

1) Did you know New Brunswick’s provincial motto is “hope restored”?

Many people don’t know the origins of our provincial motto. We actually earned it because of our long and proud history of providing hope and new beginnings to refugees. Among countless others, this includes the thousands of Loyalists, Acadians and Brayons who have shaped our beautiful province and built the communities in which we live.

2) New Brunswickers will build communities with the refugee families.

The plan set in motion by the Government of Canada means that New Brunswick can expect several hundred refugees to be resettled in the province in the coming weeks. These individuals and families will become our neighbours, colleagues, and classmates. We have choices to make about how we act and respond and how we want to shape New Brunswick’s future communities, which will look a whole lot more dynamic, prosperous and diverse if we keep multiculturalism at the heart of it all.

3) Refugees contribute immensely to our communities and economy.

Over the short term, these families will need our support, but before long they will be starting businesses, joining our workforce and enrolling in our schools.  This helps all New Brunswickers and will ultimately grow our economy. Immigrants and newcomers are engines for growth, creativity, and prosperity.  Part of the reason our economy is trailing the rest of the country is our population is aging and we are not attracting enough new people to drive growth and economic activity.  As we help them to restore their hope, they will in turn help us to restore hope for our province.

In September, 2015, Canadian Business published the following points to debunk the myth that refugees take more than they give:

Casting refugees as freeloaders may be politically expedient but it lacks a basis in fact. Between 1979 and 1981, Canada accepted 60,000 “boat people” from Southeast Asia. Within a decade, 86% of those former refugees were working, healthy and spoke English with some proficiency, achieving the basic criteria for success set out by academic Morton Beiser in his landmark study of their integration into Canadian society. They were less likely to use social services and more likely to have jobs than the average Canadian. One in five was self-employed. They weren’t a drain on the taxpayer—they were taxpayers.

4) First Nations leaders across Canada have shared their support: Syrians are our neighbours and we must help them. 

New Brunswick’s own Graydon Nicholas, former Lieutenant Governor and provincial court judge, said the following on the topic in October, 2015:

“Our society has to learn to accept each other and respect our differences. The Creator made each one of us special and with dignity. There is no other individual who is like us. We are one family of humanity with beautiful cultures languages and spiritualties. We need one another to survive and live together in this beautiful planet my elders call Mother Earth. Our present and future children need positive and nurturing adults who love and care for one another. We are all neighbors and need to help one another.”

5) Refugees are not a threat to security.

Refugees are fleeing violence and are looking for stability and security. In fact, security is top of mind for government officials: all refugees are subjected to rigorous security training by UNHCR (the UN agency for refugees) and the Canadian government through Canada Border Services Agency and CSIS. In-depth interviews are done to assess the details of their application and to identify any risk factors. Recent terrorist attacks in France were not conducted by refugees but by home-grown extremists. Our response to these events is above all a test of our character. “Opening our doors to refugees is one of the strongest ways possible to reject the violence and the incitement to hatred and division represented by the attacks.” (Canadian Council for Refugees, November 2015)

6) Fear and anger towards refugees and Muslims only feeds the objective of terrorists.

We aren’t the type of people to turn our backs on those in need.  We can chose hope over fear, and compassion over aggression.  Yes, we must be resolute and strategic in our response to the attacks in Paris.  But let’s be sure we are targeting the right people.  Syrian refugees were the first victims of this war and terror.  This is exactly why they are fleeing for their safety.  In the end, how we respond to these displaced people may be one of the most effective strategies to counter extremism.

7) It’s the right thing to do. 

Over 4 million refugees have fled Syria since the conflict began and over half of these refugees are under the age of 17. Every day, hundreds of children go hungry, and with winter coming quickly, their situation grows worse. The number of refugees amount to more people than NB, NS, PEI, and NL combined. Just imagine that for a moment…  The entire Atlantic region packing up their families, abandoning their homes, and fleeing for personal safety.  We can only be thankful that it’s not us, and be humbled that we are in a position to help.

8)You can make a difference. 

When you sign this petition, organize an event or a donation drive, when you lend a helping hand, and when you engage in conversations, you are making a difference. In the coming months, first responders and settlement agencies will need volunteers and donations. There are myriad ways you support our efforts. Here are a few ideas on how you can help:

  1. a) Sign up as a volunteer with one of the local resettlement agencies;
  2. b) Support integration efforts by offering employment support to the individuals who are eager to reenter the workforce;
  3. c) Offer housing to ensure these individuals have a safe space to call home;
  4. d) Help organize an event such as a talk with a refugee spokesperson, a donation drive, or a fundraising event in your community to help raise awareness among your peers;
  5. e) Engage your local media to talk about the crisis and raise awareness about the issue;
  6. f) Sign this petition and share messages of support on Facebook and Twitter, and even your personal immigration story, by using #RestoreHope. This is a movement – every action and every exchange helps promote the #RestoreHope message and deepen its roots.

We feel it is important to create this platform and to empower New Brunswickers to engage with the Syrian refugees destined for our province. Help us in sharing the message that we are a welcoming people, and that New Brunswick is a place where hope can be restored.

Declare and Share.