By Letter to the Editor on August 4, 2021.
It is time for Canada to invoke the name of St. Jude: the patron saint of the lost causes.
Â In a recent issue, The British weekly Economist diagnosed that the coalition lost the war in Afghanistan and the Taliban will soon retake control of the country. Foreign troops are already moving out after 20 years of involvement. Canada moved out several years ago. 165 Canadians men and women gave their lives. Lives of Afghan friends and families who risked their lives to help Canadian troops are in danger as Talibans are gaining grounds rapidly. President Biden is planning to pull out his troops. Afghan women who had been emboldened by the idea of their rightful place in human society will face a serious regressive pressure to go back to the bad old days of theocracy. We must receive them into Canada without delay. Many of them were interpreters, guides, and people who provided essential services to Canadian troops.
Canada’s history is full of similar stories. The first was in the 18th century: the United Empire Loyalists were escaping the new republic south of the border. Canada, still under the British Crown, welcomed them into Upper Canada and Maritimes as our own. It was a hopeless cause fighting the fledgling United States of America.
Many of them were mercenaries, like 30,000 Germans from Hesse hired by King George III. My spouse is a descendant of those Hessians on her mother’s side. Many found refuge in the Pennsylvania Dutch or Deutsche colonies because of language. Some eventually found their way into Canada. The Loyalists, including Hessians, have formed an important component of English speaking Canada. Without them our country would have remained a country populated by Indigenous and Metis nations and settlers from France. French would have been the dominant language and with English would have been the language of a tiny minority.
There were four similar situations since the Second World War when Canada needed to invoke St. Jude: Hong Kong, Vietnam, Syria, and Afghanistan. People in those countries paid a heavy price for helping or being in alliance with Canada. It was our duty to pay back for their sacrifices. Thousands of them are settled in Canada, and now are a part of Canadian landscape. One of them became Canada’s Governor-General: Adrienne Clarkson.
Let us be grateful for the service of Afghan comrades-in-arms and welcome them into our midst.
Tadashi (Tad) Mitsui