September cover image: Photo of a young African boy.

Vol 23 No 6 September 2008

Columns

National Bishops's Turn

Purchasing Back Issues

Back issues may be mailed to any address in Canada at a cost of $5.00/copy. International requests please contact us to confirm shipping method and costs. Quantities are limited.

Contact Us

Canada Lutheran
302-393 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg, MB
R3B 3H6

E-mail: canaluth@elcic.ca


Trina Gallop—Editorial Director
Phone: 204.984.9172
Toll-Free: 888.786.6707 (ext. 172)
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E-mail: tgallop@elcic.ca


Lucia Carruthers—Editor
Phone: 204.984.9171
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Fax: 204.984.9185

E-mail: editor@elcic.ca


Barb Wiebe—Circulation
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Phone: 204.984.9170
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O Canada!

Will your congregation answer the call for refugee assistance?

Moving to Canada from my home in Kansas City, Mo., eight years ago resulted in some immediate culture shock. Lots of little things made life exciting and, at times, challenging.

Voting in my first Canadian election, for example, was baffling. In the states, I was used to completing a complex ballot listing every public office from president to local sheriff. Now you want me to vote for prime minister by checking off—in pencil no less—one name on a paper ballot? Seems too easy to be legitimate.

Grocery shopping was always a challenge that first year, as I never remembered to bring a loonie to plug into my grocery cart, and the items I needed were predictably put on shelves with the French labels facing out! I had to turn around every can to know whether I was getting cut or julienned green beans, nibblets or creamed corn.

Getting immediate and free access to a doctor—now that threw me for a loop. I'll never go back to American managed health care!

I'm proud to say that although I've felt Canadian for some years now, I made it official this spring by becoming a citizen. Doing so means I share citizenship with my husband and my two young sons and that I am part of a beautiful, diverse country that I have come to love as my own.

On March 4, I joined 80 others in a downtown Winnipeg courtroom to take the oath and accept the responsibilities and privileges of Canadian citizenship. (Approximately 160,000 immigrants take this oath each year.) It was an emotional moment, despite the fact that my journey had been mostly administrative. As each individual was called up to receive his or her proof of citizenship, friends and family cheered and whistled with wild enthusiasm, and joyous celebration filled the courtroom. It was at this moment that I realized what citizenship might really mean.

I had never considered that some of these new Canadians—representing more than 30 countries that day—may have never set foot inside a grocery store until they set foot in Canada. They may never have voted in an election or received adequate medical care.

Our country offers immigrants a life of freedom and opportunity that is easy to take for granted, which is why I was excited to hear of so many of our congregations making refugee resettlement part of their mission in the world. Helping refugees is no less our mission than helping the homeless, feeding the hungry, or lifting up the poor in spirit. Refugees are all of those things. And while we may not find the word refugees in the Bible, some of the most important people in scripture were exiled and outcasts, fleeing their homes as targets for persecution.

In this issue's cover story on page 10, we'll introduce you to a few of the congregations working to bring these individuals and families to Canada, and we'll tell you how you and your congregation can help.

Just think, if we make this important work part of our commitment to compassionate justice, perhaps more people could say their biggest challenge was finding a can of French-cut green beans in a well-stocked grocery store aisle. Now that would be something to celebrate.

Merci Canada!


Lucia Carruthers, Editor