Other immigrants didn’t get all this help

Here is what happened to me when I came from Germany to Canada in 1955

A lot of figures are floating around to aid the Syrian refugees, $1.2 billion in six years is one of them. I just shake my head. Here is what happened to me when I came from Germany to Canada in 1955: I had to pay my own fare, find my own accommodation, find my first job. My assets: $115 and about 200 words of English.

I slept on the train from Montreal, in Hamilton, Ontario, I went to Immigration to register, got my identity card and not even best wishes. Another young guy hanging around the waiting room told me to walk around town and look for smoke stacks and go to Employment — me looking for job. In two days I had a job at Dominion Glass as a sweeper (broom) for 90cents/hour.

You might say that I wasn’t a refugee. Well, not coming to Canada but I have the experience and will tell you: on Jan. 22, 1945 my parents and four of us (the youngest brother six weeks old) hooked up a sled behind a farmers’ wagon with our two suitcases and one bag of bedding. We heard the Russian artillery behind us, it was that close. Yes, there was food from the NSV (something like the Red Cross) but no financial assistance, no accommodation, no job or later a steady income like the Syrian refugees will get, which is higher than a Canadian senior citizen receives. Instead of my pension I maybe should try to apply for that, being a refugee also.

Talk to any person who came to Canada in the 1950s and ’60s and ask them how they managed and what they think of this refugee assistance program with our tax money. Well, better not, it just makes them mad. Oh Canada.

 

Wolfgang Lehwald

Mill Bay