I understand some Americans are thinking of moving to Canada if the US allows Syrian refugees into their country. In light of that, I have some words for them.
My dear American friends:
If you are serious about moving to Canada because your government is planning to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees into your country by the end of 2016, you might want to know that our government is bringing in 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2015. Housing for immigrants, then, will be at a premium. And it is our intention to welcome them. You may have to wait in line. Sorry.
You won't qualify for our taxpayer funded health care system for a while; at least until you become a Permanent Resident. Marry a Canadian. Let them sponsor you as an immigrant. Allow a couple of years for paperwork. You could try applying for refugee status, but unless you face capital punishment in your own country, it would be a very long shot. Again, sorry about that.
Leave your guns at home. And don't even think once about "open carry" It's illegal and the police are quite strict about it. It's a Canadian thing and something we aren't sorry about.
Canada is a bilingual country. That's English and French. Your Spanish may be helpful, but if you speak Chinese, Hindi, Urdu, Korean, Arabic, Tigre, Afar or Tagalog you will be at a decided advantage.
Do speak slowly as we become accustomed to your American accent. When you start ending your sentences with "eh?", you will be well on your way to becoming one of us.
Yes, we play baseball, football and, of course, hockey. Our baseball team, the Blue Jays, is quite good. If the baseball gods agree, they could be a World Series contender. We live in hope.
Learn the basics of hockey. You may not like the game, but it beats the hell out of invading other countries, taking down governments and then basing your army there. We invited the Russians here during the Cold War and beat them. We have beaten your hockey team in Olympic competition. It is our game and we are quite good at it. Sorry for the prideful moment.
You will hear of something called the Maple Leafs. They are, allegedly, a hockey team in the NHL. I say "allegedly", because there are an awful lot of Canadians who believe they are not a hockey team but a perpetual excuse for charging high ticket prices to see bad hockey in Toronto. But their fans live in hope, too.
Our football is also different. The field is bigger and our players are, by and large, not quite the NFL, but they play a good entertaining game with some rule differences. Learn them.
There are many other things you will have to become accustomed to. Poutine is an acquired taste, but worth it. Our beer is stronger than what you are used to, so be careful. Do pick up your litter and enjoy the weather. Put snow tires on your car. It will save you money on insurance and could save your life.
Welcome to Canada. We like it. We hope you do, too.
Rev. David Shearman is a retired United Church minister in Owen Sound and the host of Faithworks on Rogers TV - Grey County.