After the election of the Trudeau Liberals, Canada swiftly rebranded itself as a tolerant, open-armed society. But as alt-right sentiments seep across the border, how welcoming is the country? Omar Mouallem meets the refugees confronting racism, xenophobia – and the very idea of Canadian-ness
It was never particularly complicated.
All Mohammad El Hindawi wanted for his family was a reprieve from the bedbugs afflicting his children. In the summer of 2015, while dealing with the vermin in their new home of Edmonton, he’d learned through a social worker that Canadians apparently loved camping, and so, as a new Canadian, he thought that perhaps this was something he should try.
Sure, I’ll go to Canada, even though I don’t know what it is or where it is
It’s one the most Canadian things you can own. It keeps away the bad dreams.
‘Nobody saw us as a human,’ he said. ‘Just as an economic problem. It was very racist.’
When you start digging at the surface, we’re not very accepting.
Polite racism indeed.
The bigger change was within myself … I internalized the fear of radical Islam
There is no propaganda machine more effective than fear-mongering around Islamic extremism.