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By Alan Levy, July 12, 2010

As I enjoyed our Canada Day long weekend, I was reminded of my Israeli political philosophy professor at Tel Aviv University. He had a simple notion to remind those of us who were from wealthy Western countries how fortunate we were—but when it came to Canada, he would say there are diamonds and then there are diamonds. 

You understand this when you look at Canada. Only then do you really know what a diamond looks like. But to those Canadians in the class, you have only looked at the very best diamond in the world, so you have no idea how little you know about diamonds. It’s my job to teach how you have been blessed. 

What seems to be the case today is how little we have to truly worry about. How blessed we are. We are the largest shining diamond in the world! Many of us have no idea what it’s like not to have clean water and access to health care (we do not worry about outbreaks of cholera, dysentery, hepatitis, malaria and other diseases), to have missiles raining down on you and your children and to have stores in which the shelves are bare. To have little government infrastructure that works. 

According to the 2006 world refugee survey conducted by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, a staggering 33 million people worldwide are currently uprooted from their homes. Of that number, 12 million are refugees and asylum seekers living in camps in countries other than their own, and 21 million are Internally Displaced Persons, an official designation for civilians displaced by persecution, armed conflict or widespread violence. 

They do not fall under the official category of a “refugee” because they remain inside their own countries, but their plight is just as dire. 

Our concerns are about having a good job. No we can’t afford that trip to Europe, and perhaps I will purchase that iPad next year. And of course, our great topic of conversation in Brandon is that it’s either to cold, too hot, or there’s too much rain. These matters can be very serious; I have felt that mean hand of Mother Nature in February here in Brandon. But when we put all of these issues in perspective,
I know I can go to a hospital and get reasonable good care or that my children will be educated well enough to make a living.  I am so lucky that my grandparents selected Canada to immigrate to. I am sure on Canada Day weekend, many Canadians felt the same way.

Alan Levy is an Associate Professor of  Human Resources,Labour Relations & Dispute Resolution in the Department of Business Administration at the University of  Brandon. He holds a  B.A. in political science form the University of Winniupeg, a Masters in Industrial Relations form the University of Toronto and a law degree from York University.

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