Russell Wangersky: Gambling with families

Russell Wangersky: Gambling with families

With the last name “Wangersky,” it’s pretty clear some parts of my family are immigrants. It doesn’t matter, because he was an immigrant to North America, too. I went to grade school in a Nova Scotian classroom where a huge number of my classmates had names that started with “Mc” or “Mac” — and guess what? They were all immigrants, too. This month, immigrant families are allowed to submit applications for 10,000 opportunities to sponsor the immigration of parents or grandparents to Canada. Last year, there were 95,000 applications in the lottery. The system certainly needed improvement, but this is not the way. Making Canadian immigration a carnival win cheapens the process — and, not only that, doesn’t necessarily grant entry to the relatives who are best suited and best able to find their feet here and move the country forward. Nor does it bring the ones who most need to be reunited with their families. Russell Wangersky’s column appears in 35 SaltWire newspapers and websites in Atlantic Canada.

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Winnie Liao, left, and Ricky Liu chat before the opening ceremony of the P.E.I. Immigration Entrepreneurship Foundation at The Holman Grand Hotel Friday (April 7). Liu, chairman of the organization, hopes to help fellow immigrants settle on P.E.I. by helping them find viable industries in the province to invest in.
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Winnie Liao, left, and Ricky Liu chat before the opening ceremony of the P.E.I. Immigration Entrepreneurship Foundation at The Holman Grand Hotel April 7. – Maureen Coulter
Russell Wangersky
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Russell Wangersky

With the last name “Wangersky,” it’s pretty clear some parts of my family are immigrants. It doesn’t matter that, on the other side of my family, I can trace my lineage straight back to Tristram Dodge, who fished in Ferryland, N.L., in 1664. It doesn’t matter, because he was an immigrant to North America, too.

I am an immigrant — as most comfortable, anti-immigration critics are, actually, if you trace their line far enough back. I went to grade school in a Nova Scotian classroom where a huge number of my classmates had names that started with “Mc” or “Mac” — and guess what? They were all immigrants, too.

But as someone whose paternal grandparents made their way through the difficult and threatening U.S. immigration system at Ellis Island, and whose father was regularly beaten up on his way to grade school simply because of his Slavic heritage and last name, I can’t help but feel a little sympathy for those who are trying to navigate the immigration system in this country.

The Liberals took a system that was already broken — one that ended up with annual lineups and efforts to be among those whose relatives arrived in the first-come, first-immigrated annual process to reunite families — and made it ridiculous.

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