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How do you go back to the country from which your family came to Canada?

Ron Walter writes about ancestry and immigration
Trading Thoughts by Ron Walter

American president Donald Trump tweets recently implied that four coloured Congress women should go back to the countries they came from. The fact that three of them were born in the United States and a fourth is a naturalized citizen didn’t bother him. Trump just said if you don’t like it here leave the country.   

It seems blonde blue-eyed whites are his favourite race.

This situation got me thinking: What if Canadian politicians had the right to tell us to go back where we, or our ancestors, came from?

My partner would have a choice coming from a mixture of English, Dutch, German and Irish bloodlines.

The English wet, damp climate wouldn’t suit her. Holland is too close to the frothy sea for her. She can’t stand the smell of beer or sauerkraut but loves Celtic music, so Ireland would be her choice.

Going back to where my ancestors came from would be rather difficult.

My ancestors took part in one of the two great migrations of Germans to Russia when Czar Catherine the Great, a German by birth, invited and paid them to colonize and farm the uninhabited lands the Russians couldn’t or wouldn’t settle.

When the Russians retracted promises of freedom from military conscription and local government, these German-Russians did another migration to North America and helped colonize that continent.

Going back would be nearly impossible.

My paternal grandparents came from the Caucasus region. My maternal grandparents came from Bessarabia, then part of Russia, later part of Romania, now part of the Republic of Moldova.

None of those places would want the grandson of people they encouraged to leave in the early 1900s to return and take up residence. 

There is the remote possibility of returning to that part of Germany from which my ancestors left almost 300 years ago.

Many of us would face a similar dilemma if our political leaders had the power to make us go back to where we, or our ancestors, came from.

Our Indigenous people would have a real problem returning to Siberia after 10,000 years in North America. And they would need a bridge over the Bering Strait for it was solid land then.

The notion of sending people back where they came from is ridiculous.

We are incredibly lucky to live in this beautiful land governed by a democratic process. Let’s not forget our good fortune.

Ron Walter can be reached at

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.