When I was checking my luggage at YVR, the baggage handler started speaking to me, in heavily accented, broken English,

“Refugees come live off us – live luxury – not work.”

I did a double take, looking over my shoulder for someone else he was speaking to. Me? He’s speaking to me? Why me? Do I look like a xenophobe? My white skin? My age? The turquoise streak in my hair? Why me?

“I don’t think that’s the point. They need help.” I responded.

“They scammers. Scam Canada!” he said, as he helped me lift my suitcase up onto the belt.

I shrugged, wanting the conversation to end. Just end. Please end! How did I get in this position anyway? How strange it was, to hear this man, an obvious immigrant from somewhere else, talking down about refugees. He was dark and swarthy and to my eye, he could have been Syrian himself. I’d have expected him to understand more, to have some empathy, but no, he was so against them, he wanted a total stranger to know how he felt about it.

Syrian families eager to build a life in Metro Vancouver