ZYTARUK: Canada, charity begins right here at home

It’s truly sad what’s happening many thousands of kilometres away, but it’s also sad what’s happening right here in our own back yard.

There were 8

So let it be written…

I’m thinking about a story out of my youth, in the prairies. There was this guy who was known to be very generous in his community but clearly failed to appreciate the maxim that charity begins at home.

During the spring melt, sucker fish would invade the ditches and so he’d put on his waders, grab a dip net and scoop up enough of the spawning, wriggling flesh to fill his freezer.

And while this guy was playing the philanthropist out in the community, he’d expect his wife and kids to subsist on these god-awful bony fish.

Canada is kind of that way.

You are no doubt aware that our fresh federal government has decided to relocate 3,000 Syrian refugees into Metro Vancouver and that most of them will likely be calling Surrey home.

And so the scramble is on as people in the resettlement business try to find these people a place to stay.

Hotels, motels and basement suites are being looked at, as are vacant apartments, and even emergency measures are being considered such as setting up cots in churches, gyms and community halls to accommodate these new residents.

Maybe some local families might like to take a Syrian family under their wing, something like billets.

Which is all of course very fine and right, except when cast in the light of a recent discovery by the provincial New Democrat opposition that in Surrey, in 8,558 instances, homeless people were turned away from shelters between November 2013 and November 2014.

Now, we don’t know what the most recent figures are, and probably will not, as the NDP also discovered through a freedom of information  request that B.C. Housing has since stopped tracking how many homeless people are being turned away.

So here’s the picture. We have homeless people on our streets, not because of political and social problems unfolding on the other side of the planet, but as a result of our own home-grown problems.

Should we not try to fix our own problems first?

It’s truly sad what’s happening many thousands of kilometres away, but it’s also sad what’s happening right here in our own back yard.

How is it that we’re talking about putting these Syrian newcomers up in cots in gyms, when we have 8,558 – eight thousand, five hundred and fifty eight, no less – turn-aways at Surrey homeless shelters?

I mean, it’s absurd. Sadly, I also wonder how many of these Syrian refugees might eventually find themselves among the homeless already being turned away from shelters.

It’s a difficult situation, no doubt. Heck, even Christ himself found there was no room at the inn.

Should we be trying to help these Syrians? Sure. But isn’t there a city or municipality in Metro Vancouver, other than Surrey, that’s better equipped to shoulder this burden? Surrey clearly has its own problems – 8,558 of them.

Is it fair to attempt to re-locate refugees into a community that can’t handle its own social obligations to people who already live here but cannot find a warm place to lay their head?

Again, charity begins at home. And if the government can’t wrap its head around that one, it’s got some big apologies to issue to people who already sought shelter in Surrey but found none.

Roughly 8,558 of them.

So let it be done.

OUR VIEW: As tension rise over Syrian refugees, tolerance needed

‘Interfaith Pilgrimage’ planned in Surrey to honour Paris and Beirut victims

Surrey woman near suicide bomb attack on Syrian refugees in Lebanon

SETTLING IN SURREY: Are we ready for Syrian refugees?

Email Tom at tom.zytaruk@thenownewspaper.com

Just Posted

Surrey RCMP searching for missing 15-year-old Aboriginal girl

Police say Megan Hindmarch was last seen in the 12400-block of 97B Street at 8 p.m. on June 18

‘Not much has changed’: Why overcrowding in Surrey schools has persisted for decades

FINAL IN A SERIES: Education minister, longtime trustee weigh in on packed Surrey schools

Dream of touring about to come true for White Rock comedian who uses wheelchair

‘Ramp for Ryan’ benefit show raised $4,500 for Ryan Lachance’s portable ramp

City, RCMP tackling “distressed” Surrey properties

The idea is to improve public safety and social concerns in Surrey’s neighbourhoods

Ill-fated Surrey recovery house to host open house

Back on Track event planned for 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 21

VIDEO: After 73 years, siblings separated by adoption reunite in B.C

Donna Smith of Abbotsford and Clayton Myers of Williams Lake are glad they met each other

Woman sues Kelowna RCMP officer over ‘abhorrent’ interrogation in sex assault case

The woman involved in the 2012 interrogation is suing the officer and B.C.’s Minister of Justice

VIDEO: Rare white killer whale captured by drone near Campbell River

The transient orca has been named Tl’uk, a Coast Salish word that means ‘moon.’

B.C. oil tanker ban squeaks through final vote in Senate

Bill C-48 bars oil tankers from loading at ports on B.C’s north coast

Teens have privacy rights, doctor tells inquest into B.C. boy’s opioid death

Elliot Eurchuk died of a drug overdose. He was found unresponsive in his bedroom in April 2018

New Westminster police seek video of fight between two teens

Police responded to a fight at Pier Park in the early hours of June 14

B.C.-born Carey Price brings young fan to tears at NHL Awards banquet

Anderson Whitehead first met his hockey idol after his mother died of cancer

Licence issue delays boozing while cruising on BC Ferries

Planned June launch for alcohol sales delayed

B.C. school mourns after 13-year-old killed by fallen tree on field trip

Teenager died after being struck and pinned by tree while on a field trip near Sooke

Most Read