This summer the eyes of the world followed with compassion and amazement the harrowing story of a Yazidi boy captured by ISIS and thought dead yet found and reunited with his mother here in Winnipeg where they found a home.
Sadly, Emad Mishko Tamo is just one of an estimated 50,000 Yazidis displaced in Northern Iraq who are being persecuted by ISIS.
While this persecution is not new, the threat faced by the Yazidi people today is more immanent and terrifying than ever before. Men and boys are systematically shot, beheaded or burned alive, while women and girls are captured and violently abused in sexual slavery.
Remarkably, Winnipeg has become home to one of Canada’s largest Yazidi communities, and these people have become my friends. On Oct. 25 these atrocities were acknowledged by Canada’s House of Commons, and the Federal Government promised to bring 1200 Yazidi refugees to Canada before the end of 2017. Sadly, as I stated in Legislature on Nov. 27, this has not yet happened, and the Yazidi families in our country, province and city are waiting and hoping that their family members will be rescued from ISIS.
Therefore we must recognize the need to resolve this continuing tragedy facing the Yazidi people, to welcome them with open arms, and also to appreciate their resilience, strength, and courage as an emerging community in our province.
This Christmas, we may not all know people from such dramatic circumstances, but many of us know people who are looking for home in other ways. May we open our hearts and homes to those less fortunate, may we share what we have, and cherish together the blessings of our living in the peace of Canada.
Christmas is a time for traditions, generosity and making room for others. It has become a highlight of my Christmas times to visit seniors’ homes, schools, craft sales and other community events, to meet people and to share the warmth of Christmas with those whose lives are not always as easy as they might wish.
The first Saturday of December, the Manitoba Legislature opens its doors and invites the public to tour Ministers’ offices, caucus rooms and other areas of the building typically off limits except to the politicians who work there during the year.
Refreshments are served, choirs are singing, and MLAs are available to chat in the hallways and reception rooms. The building is decorated and beautifully adorned with Christmas trees and wreaths.
If possible, please join me at the Legislature on Dec. 2 from 1 to 3 p.m. for our Christmas open house. Come and say hi in room 227, and meet some of the people who work behind the scenes as well.