Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Canadian Immigration - Harriet Tubman

Immigration has always been one of the hottest issues in many countries and Canada is not an exception. All too often exploited by political parties, it still incites different reactions among ordinary people whose opinions on the issue differ considerably. Nowadays, the prevailing belief is that immigrants in Canada represent one of the country's invaluable assets in practically all spheres of life. The conditions for the new arrivers are constantly improving and that's why more and more foreigners choose Canada as their new home. However, not everyone knows the hardships that some immigrants had to go through in order to get to Canada several decades ago. One of those who contributed a great deal to alleviate these hardships was Harriet Tubman - a woman who saved a number of slaves by providing them with a network of safe houses and many other necessities on their way from the United States to Canada.

Harriet Tubman's relationship with Canada was the result of her frequent voyages with American slaves who escaped from their masters. Canada was the country that welcomed her family and from which Harriet could plan her secret trips to bring more and more slaves from the United States. The system she later developed with the help of other abolitionists was known as the Underground Railroad - a network of people willing to provide all kinds of support to the slaves escaping to the North or to Canada. From the historical perspective the system is compared to the American Revolution in a way it united people in their anger against certain principles that they believed were detrimental to the whole nation. What really mattered during this particular period was the wisdom with which Harriet pursued her goals. Though she never learnt to read or write she was led by her natural abilities acquired during the time spent as a slave in Maryland. Above all it was Harriet's perfect sense for orientation in the country she was forced to abandon a few years ago. Her desire to be free was so strong that she rather preferred death to living as a slave. "I had reasoned this out in my mind; there was one of two things I had a right to, liberty, or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other;... ". In the eyes of those who found a new way of life in Canada Tubman became a symbol of leadership for which she earned the nickname Moses - a religious hero who led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. Similarly, Canada was the promised land for a great number of African-Americans as well as the place where Tubman was finally united with her own family. For a certain period of her life she herself settled in St. Catharines - a village with the largest number of fugitive slaves from the United States.

Harriet Tubman's life was full of personal deceptions and suffering. Yet she was able to overcome all of this and use her own experience for the good of others at a time when the future of the black community in the Americas was unpredictable. She strove unceasingly to fight for the human rights of all slaves living under oppression and tyranny. Not only did she save many of them during her lifetime but she also inspired many others who followed her example and contributed to the gradual decay of slavery in the United States as well as the development of Canadian immigration.

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