Thanks, Rick, for a really important rant. You’re famous for them; this one hit home.
Look. This is personal. Really personal.
In 1978, as an Indiana Hoosier, I accepted a tenure-track position at the University of Saskatchewan, selecting it over positions at Oregon, Virginia, and my own beloved alma mater, Indiana University. Long story, but it made sense at the time. I fell in love with Saskatoon and my new university almost immediately. It was a wonderful, much smaller, town and the people here became family almost immediately. I retired from the UofS last year, after 36 years of what I hope was a career that mattered.
Rewind. We arrived in October, 1978 after a lot of scrutiny on both sides of the border. Everything was fine. In December we were called into a back office of Canadian Immigration, presumably to get our landed immigrant papers. Instead, we were ordered to leave the country in 30 days because our son had Down syndrome — how did they miss this earlier? — and might become a burden on society. Really? He was 3.
The university got animated, and a lot of people in the immigration offices helped too. Good people trump stupid legislation every time. And let me emphasize — many of the really good people were people we dismiss too quickly as “bureaucrats”. They cared, and they worked to do what they could.
There are a dozen twists and turns to the story, but let’s segue to 2011. Jim (a.k.a. “the burden”) got his Canadian citizenship. He’s contributed in so many ways to Canadian society, and to our knowledge, has never been a burden. He isn’t a client of Social Services. He’s just wrapping up his 21st year working for the local YMCA. How many people do you know who can claim such a significant contribution?
Are we proud? Sure.
But here’s the thing. It’s still happening. People who have so much to give, so much possibility, are being denied a life in Canada because of a really archaic provision in the Immigration Act. Can we fix it? Sure we can. We’re Canadians.