“The stranger who dwells with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God” (Lev 19. 34).
Faced with the reality of human migration, there is an urgent need to grow in solidarity; that is why, in our province, we have increased our focus on migrants and refugees.
For more than a century, immigration has been a means of supporting demographic growth and economic and cultural diversity in the whole of Canada. Millions of people from all over the world have chosen to live in this place and to make this country their new homeland.
Canada has always been a host country, respecting and supporting immigrants, refugees and those in exile, as they come in ever increasing numbers from different parts of the world.
The Canadian population is compassionate and aware of the needs of the persons who arrive in the country, especially during the integration period. The political and social organization of the country provides health and education services to refugees and the exiled and collaborates with different non-profit institutions working in favour of these persons. These institutions include the food banks that exist in the different provinces of the country.
In the province of Quebec, in Montreal, a few sisters collaborate on a weekly basis in the distribution of food products such as meat, eggs, cheese, vegetables, milk, bread, etc., coming from various donations and from large-scale charity campaigns, from the collection of supermarket surpluses and from purchases made to complete what is needed; these food products are regularly given to low-income individuals and families who request them.
RACINE CROISÉE is a non-profit organization created to fight against the precarity and social exclusion of persons by offering them direct nutritional assistance and by equipping them effectively in the integration process. I serve as a volunteer there. The time of sharing with the immigrants and refugees is a very precious experience for me, to get to know the reality and the difficulties that the people from different places are going through.
When I gaze at their faces and their eyes as they approach me to receive these food donations, I discover another kind of encounter which generates a connection of feelings and creates bonds of sympathy and friendship, making me kinder, more welcoming, more patient and more supportive.
Another different and profound aspect is sharing with the people who volunteer to deliver food. It is there that we build a space for exchange that generates greater mutual knowledge at different levels which is a great help to understand the reality that we experience in this country.
“I have not spoken to you of brilliant acts of missionary activity, but of simple gestures that respond to the signs of God: efforts to welcome, interest in displaced persons, openness to the means that have emerged through the contacts or in the activities to help them. Our action perhaps will be different in the way of doing, yet effective if we as our Foundress, listen attentively to the signs of God in the simplicity of daily life, being ready to respond joyfully to his call of self-giving” (Anne Marie Foujols, fmm).
“This steadfast charity which the immigrants, refugees (poor) need is a powerful image for us, one that bears witness to Our Lord. Whatever we may do, He never abandons us despite our misery; He guides us, leads us and gives us the graces we need. Let us imitate Him in his patience and his mercy” (JO, 330).
I feel very much enriched to have the occasion as an immigrant to serve the immigrants and refugees in Canada.
Mercedes Nunez, f.m.m.