Editor: I would like to comment on the ongoing situation with Langley’s Figueroa family.
Students in B.C. learn, throughout their educational years, about the ability of a single person to stand tall and make changes. In our own country we have seen the impact of Terry Fox and Rick Hansen. In modern times, we have come to know those men and women who place their lives on the line to fight for human rights overseas.
For those of us who have taught in Langley for decades, we well remember the first wave of refugee children from El Salvador, and the experiences they had been through horrified us — 80,000 innocent people killed by the government death squads. Children herded into a church and shot like plastic ducks at a PNE game.
On the world stage, we have had Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar and the Dalai Lama speaking out for human rights in South Africa, Mayanmar and Tibet. Based on the criteria applied to Mr. Figueroa, each of these humanitarians would be classified as having belonged to a terrorist organization and would not have been acceptable as refugee material for Canada.
Mr. Figueroa placed his life in his hands to speak out against the slaughter of innocents. The Canadian government says it is wrong to do that.
Let’s play a game, shall we? Let’s take out Mr. Figueroa’s name and substitute Pierre. Let’s take out the FMLN-the name of the anti-death squad group, and substitute French Resistance and let’s take out the name “death squads” and substitute Nazis. Growing up, I knew a Pierre-he was the quiet hero who lived at the end of my street after making a new home in Canada.
The Canada I grew up in welcomed heroes from afar, who had risked their lives for others. This is the Canada my young relative fought for overseas against the Taliban. He is horrifed that the government has not welcomed Mr. Figueroa. He is horrified that the government is turning away from the international identity we once had.
I have taught a wonderful loving autistic boy named José Ivan Figueroa. I have seen a devoted father work every night with his beloved son.
Having heard the first-hand stories of horror from those refugee children years ago, I have tremendous admiration for someone who was willing to risk their life to speak out during that time.
I view having been told by a government member to be quiet and to not make waves (as I was told) an obscenity.
Jason Kenney very speedily cancelled the deportation order for a family from France, living in Quebec with a handicapped daughter, when he received phone calls from Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton.
It is high time he reversed this deportation order for Mr. and Mrs. Figueroa, and it should not have to take chummy back room phone calls from politicians to do the right thing.
I am Canadian. I will make waves.
I will speak out against injustice. I will most definitely speak for heroes.