Saying thank you to all newcomers to Canada

By: Greg Selinger, MLA for St. Boniface

As published in The Lance

January 3, 2018

In these first days of 2018 I think of wishes for health, happiness, peace and love.

Many of the over 17 million people who have immigrated to Canada over the last 150 years have wished for freedom, hope, and opportunity. Immigration has been important for the development of Canada, and particularly the west, with many of us tracing our ancestors back to places outside Canada.

Over these past 150 years, the numbers of foreign-born Canadians varied little from 16 per cent in 1871, a high of 22 per cent in 1932 and 20 per cent in 2011, with some of those making Saint Boniface home. Gabrielle Roy, in The Tin Flute, wrote of her Italian and Irish neighbours and of Wilhelm from Holland, her first suitor. Roy’s words showed what this community has always valued, inclusion and acceptance. The many French, Métis, Belgium, Polish, English, and others who immigrated to this community have all

contributed to what it is today.

Many immigrated to this country because of hardships where they lived and hoped for a better place to raise and provide for their families. Whether they were the Russians, Polish and Ukrainians from Eastern Europe, or those from Western Europe and Scandinavia in the late 1800s and early 1900s, or others who left their homes because of wars and conflicts or draughts and famine, the search for all was a better life.

The words, “My dad gave up a lot for his family to make sure me and my brother have a bright future. We moved here for a better future and a better life”— as said by then-Grade 12 student Bilal Ayyache to Simon Fuller, reporter for The Lance, in an article from February 2016, shows what living here means to many.

Ayyache was a Palestinian refugee, who lived in Nigeria before moving to Canada. He is a winner of the prestigious $100,000 Loran scholarship.

Thank you to all the newcomers over the past 150 years who have contributed through their skills and knowledge to a better Canada. I also want to thank the many religious orders, individuals, organizations and groups who do so much to assist immigrants who are most in need with getting here, getting settled, adapting and learning so much in a world that is so new for them but where they have hope and snow!

I wish to one and all for the coming year health, happiness, peace, love, freedom, hope and opportunity.