Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Signage > Cliff Speaks Out

Cliff Cornell is a young American who has been living and working on Gabriola for quite some time. Back in the states, he joined the Army to get an education and because it was his best opportunity for a steady paycheck with benefits. Before signing on the line, the recruiting officer assured him that his unit would never be deployed to Iraq but Uncle Sam broke that promise shortly after basic training and Cliff had to make a tough decision. He was morally opposed to the war so he left everyone and everything he knew and loved and headed north, landing first in Toronto and eventually settling on Gabriola.

Canada has a long history of granting safe haven to political refugees that goes back at least as far as the Underground Railroad. Sitting Bull led his people across the border after the Battle of the Little Bighorn and of course there were hundreds of conscientious objectors welcomed into Canada during the Viet Nam era. Unfortunately, the conservative Harper government has chosen to break with tradition and last week Cliff lost his legal battle to remain in BC and is now facing deportation. He's had a tremendous amount of support from the community and his co-workers and you can read about that here.

Cliff is a gentle soul and I can't imagine that the American penal system will be very kind to him. After petitions, litigation and community meetings on his behalf (today's photo), sadly all we can do now is keep him in our thoughts and prayers.


Virginia said...

That's a damn shame and while I"m at it, the Iraq war is a damn shame as well. Good luck to Cliff.

Bob Crowe said...

Sadly, personal tragedies like this happen a lot to those uprooted from their native countries, whether by force, choice or circumstances. I was in the first US draft lottery in 1969 and drew a high number. Had fortune gone the other way, I had been looking at ways to get to Toronto. What would have become of me? And of immediate concern, what will become of Cliff? Life is a game of chance.

Babooshka said...

Too many things to say and I have to curb my rants on other people's blogs. It's just so sad that country that has always had a reputation of a bastion of hope for conscientious objectors should choice to revoke this. Powerful image then today.

rob said...

I hope you are wrong, Snapper. I really hope the penal system will be kind to him. What a sad story, really touching!

raf said...

Excellent post today, Snapper.
Thanks for sharing.