Regina + Sri Lankan Refugees = Awesome

That Andrew Coyne article in Maclean’s that LaRose linked to the other day ends with a mention of the 60,000 Vietnamese boat people that Canada admitted back in the 1970s. He talks briefly about how well those people are doing 40 years later.

Well, speaking of, I used to live near Somerset and Cambridge in Ottawa. That’s right at the entrance to that city’s Chinatown and a lot of those Vietnamese refugees settled in and around there.

There’s even a monument commemorating their flight from Vietnam and arrival in Canada outside the neighbourhood pool, the Plant Recreation Centre.

And you know what? All that Vietnamese influence on the neighbourhood has been just pure, 100% awesome. Especially where eats are concerned. Somerset Street is nowadays awash in places where you can get Vietnamese food. At the risk of sounding like I’m pining, highlights included Vietnamese Subs — so tasty with the cilantro and the meat and the $2 – $3 price tag. Then there’s Bun which is a vermicelli bowl with vegetables and grilled meat. And then, of course, there’s Pho — a cheap but delicious Vietnamese soup.

Best place to get Pho in Ottawa, btw, (moving in to full pining mode here) was Thu Do at 765 Somerset. But there was also this one place, Pho Bo Ga, that was open until 3 am even on weeknights. (Man, what I wouldn’t have given for a place like that when our daughter was first born. Those sleepless nights would’ve been a hell of a lot easier to cope with if there’d been a soup place open to the wee hours down the street from us in Waterloo.)

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is, letting refugees into our country is a Very Good Idea. Not just because it’s the right thing to do from a compassion perspective, but also because it will be good for us.

In other words, Coyne is right. The Tamil refugees will only make Canada stronger.

We should be welcoming them — not picketing, demanding they be sent home.

In fact, I’d like to make a suggestion. We should welcome them here. To Regina. Way I see it, a City Hall with moxy and the vision to imagine a vibrant, multicultural city for the 21st century and beyond would be lobbying Ottawa right now to help the Tamil refugees settle in our fair prairie city. Then maybe we could, oh, I don’t know… offer startup loans for any among them willing to set up, say, a restaurant. Or five.

Because, you know, Tamils are from Sri Lanka. And Sri Lankan food is 100%, pure awesome.

Author: Paul Dechene

Paul Dechene is 5’10” tall and he was born in a place. He’s not there now. He’s sitting in front of his computer writing his bio for this blog. He has a song stuck in his head. It’s “Girl From Ipanema”, thanks for asking.

You can follow Paul on Twitter at @pauldechene and get live updates during city council meetings and other city events at @PDcityhall.

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