The picturesque city of Guelph, Ontario is the storied home of Roger’s Hometown Hockey Festival, Kazoo! Fest (a quirky music festival that does not feature a Kazoo artist in their lineup), Canada’s only donkey sanctuary, and 132,000 solicitous and enchanting Canadians. It now claims to be the premier world Syrian refugee destination. And they would be nauseatingly correct.
Oh, yes, Guelph is kicking sanctuary city butts worldwide. Not because our northern neighbors are more agreeable or bighearted than Americans. They most certainly aren’t more civilized than Paris, buttoned-up proper as London, or stout and stoic as our German allies. What Canada possesses and the rest of the world does not, is a plan. Can you just imagine? Oh, and they also have citizens willing to take responsibility for refugees instead of asking their government to accept the burden.
Let me introduce Jim Estill, Guelph’s secret weapon in the war on Syrian resettlement–the man we would suffer through a Labatt’s Blue Lager for, just to toast a liberal-minded guy who doesn’t believe that his government is solely responsible for solving this global problem. Estill is a prominent businessman and entrepreneur, an influencer in Canada, with a built-in soapbox.
Hollywood and Liberal elites call out from their ivory towers to our ravaged government, already overextended with past good Samaritan acts, to fling open the doors. They want a flood of troubled, bedraggled people without knowledge of our customs, language or even a scant few shekels in their pockets, to waltz on into the country. In my mind’s eye, I see Rosie O’Donnell at LAX, waving to the confused and frightened newcomers, and passing out goodies, gushingly proclaiming, “Here you go, have a welfare check and a food stamp card, and don’t forget to turn on Oprah! I have to be going now, to incite violent protests and retreat to my Florida beach home. Buh-bye!”
But I digress, back to Estill. Here is why we should buy this guy a Labatt’s Blue Lager: Haunted by the images coming out of Syria, Estill put up $1.5 million dollars, or $1.1 in U.S. Dollars, to sponsor 58 Syrian refugee families—250 new residents of Guelph. He regularly meets his chosen exiles as they arrive at the Toronto airport, holding a colorful welcome sign. But these seeming photo ops with local media is just the first of many responsibilities. Estill has built an army of volunteers to guide the immigrants in assimilating and adjusting to Canadian life. Each family is assigned both Arabic and English-speaking mentors, given a place to live, employment and friendship, and a veritable welcome wagon of thoughtful, as well as useful trappings. That genuinely surprised Firas al-Mohammed, one of Estill’s charges:
Mohammed was told his family (wife Alaa and daughter Lilyan) could live in a comfortable apartment free until the end of June. They were handed a notebook, a comprehensive directory of useful information, even pictures of mentors. They couldn’t believe it when they found their refrigerator filled with Syrian food.
Without one thin dime of government assistance, 58 families are well on their way to becoming Canadian citizens. The Syrian’s are shown the possibilities of their new life—how to blend into the woven fabric of religions, creeds, and community. Volunteers become friends, hosting outings to Guelph’s swanky farmer’s market, that features local rural and urban farming enterprises, libraries, the theater and of course, their national pastime, a hockey game.
The Canadian government has done their part as well. Typically, each applicant for asylum is vetted thoroughly, a process that is upwards of nine months to complete. Canada has admitted 40,000 Syrians since November 2015, with 16,000 sponsored entirely by private citizens.
While this enormous gesture of kindness toward those ravaged by unspeakable violence and horror should be lauded, it is the success stories coming from Jim Estill’s families in Guelph that makes the world sit up and take notice:
Estill likes to say he runs his refugee program like a business. In fact, he puts some of the new arrivals, like Ahmad Abad, to work temporarily at Danby, the appliance manufacturing company he runs. He even gives them time during the work day to attend English classes at the factory.
Abed and his wife, Roula, arrived in November from the city of Homs, where they owned a clothing factory, destroyed now. The sign promising an “exciting new retailer” at a mall in Guelph refers to Ahmad.
One story out of hundreds. Estill beams like a proud papa when he brags about his new Syrian friends speaking English, after only two months in Guelph, and working towards becoming citizens.
I am ashamed to admit I have Syrian resettlement envy. Why haven’t we thought of this?
America is ripe with philanthropic movie stars and titans of industry who could bankroll thousands of desperate families. George Soros has demonstrated his skill at organizing masses of fresh-faced thugs for his bidding. Could he not put these low-slung pant wearers on retainer in resettlement communities and invest his filthy lucre for good? Imagine if Madonna, Bill Gates, Cher, the ever-feminine Ashley Judd and the Clinton Cartel, er Foundation, rounded up their progressive liberal pals, and pledged their money and responsibility in creating a safe haven for Syrians seeking asylum. Surely, Cher would be willing to forgo a few plastic surgery appointments for the cause, and frankly, what is left to tweak? Eventually, she will run out of ribs to remove.
C’mon Hollywood, you wanted to migrate north a few months ago. Instead, let’s bring a slice of Canada, specifically, the positive, forward thinking and generous spirit, south to warmer climes. It’s your time to shine; your fawning, sycophantic public awaits your next move with bated breath. We need you.
And fear not my lovely, desperately sensitive celebs, America understands that you may still sting from your embarrassing and epic loss last November. It may be a difficult journey to the point where you can hold your head high in public once again. We empathize with you, we do. And if you discover that you can’t bear the feelings you harbor deep inside, of being unloved, irrelevant and neglected, there may be a place in Guelph just for you. A bucolic environment where you can live out your ‘life surrounded by love, dignity, and the respect you so richly deserve.’ At least that’s what is says on the Canada’s Donkey Sanctuary site.