The Hill by Jess Tomlin 9 November 2016
To the Americans who are feeling fearful about what the next four years will bring, the parents in all 50 states who wrestled with what to say to their daughters this morning, and those in the U.S. who watched the election results come in and then Googled Canadian immigration with such frequency that the site crashed:
Canadians are just as worried by the election results as you are.
We stayed up with you last night. My own 7-year-old daughter woke me up at 3 a.m. in anticipation of seeing a woman make an acceptance speech for the enormous job of commander in chief.
As the executive director of Canada’s only international women’s fund, I promise that we share the heartbreak of those Americans who stand up for women’s rights, for LGBT rights, for immigrant rights, and for environmental justice.
In fact, we stand so strongly with you that I need to be honest with you.
Don’t go to the border today. We don’t need you in Canada, even though Canadians need you more now than ever.
Progressives, feminists, American Democrats and Republicans who truly believed that love would trump hate at the polls: You get it. You understand what a Donald Trump presidency means for the most marginalized and the most vulnerable. You know it’s not just about those people within your own borders.
I’m thinking of the LGBT folks who live in fear and practically underground in Uganda. What of the Ugandan politicians who look to the United States to draw the line — or not — on LGBT rights?
I’m thinking of the women in Mexico who defend the full spectrum of reproductive rights for survivors of sexual violence. What happens to their hard-fought progress if it is acceptable to reopen the debate on sexual health and rights in the U.S.?
And I am thinking of the migrant women from countries like Peru, Colombia and Bolivia who live in poor neighborhoods of Buenos Aires who are organizing to provide legal advice and counseling to fellow migrant women. What happens to their efforts in Argentina if it is acceptable to question the human rights of migrants in the U.S.?
You understand that this election and the ensuing four years will have unimaginable ripple effects on millions of lives. This will affect women and minorities in ways we can barely conceive. And, particularly now, your strong footing on American soil is essential.
Canadians share in your outrage. You can count on us as your northern neighbor to amplify your anger and that of women and girls around the world. And you can count on us to do our best to leverage the influence of our feminist Canadian prime minister to unleash more support for the women and girls who may be most affected by potentially regressive U.S. policies and their impact on international commitments.
The devastation we felt this morning is amplified because of last month’s halted peace deal in Colombia, and because of Brexit, and because of hateful rhetoric in France and elsewhere in Europe. It’s because of xenophobic attacks on immigrants fleeing war zones in Burundi and Syria.
Canada is fast becoming an increasingly isolated beacon of progressive values in North America and the world, but we also have extreme inequalities on our own soil: pay inequity, violence on our university campuses, and a far-too-long list of missing and murdered Indigenous women — to name only a few. Nonetheless, you can count on us to work hard to champion inclusivity, diversity and tolerance here in Canada and around the world.
The work to protect and defend the rights of women is now, more than ever, vital for American feminists. It is what will ensure that the clock isn’t set back hundreds of years for women — not just for American women but for women the world over. Don’t drive to the border. Instead, dig deep into your communities and drive change from the inside out. The world needs you.
Jess Tomlin is the executive director of The MATCH International Women’s Fund in Canada.