Canada’s most prolific tech leaders came together in support of their country’s values on a prolific January afternoon.
The week following President Donald Trump’s election have seen several controversial executive orders issued by the Republican leader. One executive order in particular has inspired protests across the United States and backlash from countries around the world.
This order bans travel to the United States from several Muslim-majority countries for 90 days, which include Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.
The Canadian tech community has issued an open letter to the world that condemns the actions taken by President Trump in his first nine days. The letter stands to support the message of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has recently expressed his view that Canada must remain inclusive to all nationalities.
To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 28, 2017
When the letter first made headlines, 150 members of the Canadian tech community had signed it through a Google doc that circulated on social media earlier today. Since then, that number has reportedly grown to reach 500.
Furthermore, the letter called on the prime minister to immediately give temporary residency to those displaced by the U.S. order. Signatories include notable members of Canada’s tech community, including Ryerson’s DMZ, members of the City of Toronto, Dragon’s Den investor Michelle Romanow and Shopify COO Harley Finkelstein.
Major technology entrepreneurs have also joined the initiative by signing the document, including Kobo and League founder Michael Serbinis, MaRS Discovery District CEO Ilse Treurnicht and Omers Ventures CEO John Ruffolo.
In a blog post on League’s website, Serbinis wrote about his experience with immigration and applauded the Canadian tech community for coming together to respond to the Trump administration.
“I am the son of immigrants. I am here because Canada admitted my Father who was leaving civil war torn Greece for hope of a better life. The United States refused him. Macedonians were persecuted by the Greek government, and while he did have a hard time leaving the country, Canada welcomed him with open arms. I’m here for that reason. I’d like to help someone like my Father today,” wrote Serbinis about the travel ban.
“The principle of inclusion, acceptance of diversity, living in harmony with people of all walks — these are Canadian values, they are our values. This is a time to speak up loudly, and act vigorously. I’m happy to do my part,” Serbinis concluded.
According to recent tweets from the CBC, Canada’s immigration minster, the Honourable Ahmed D. Hussen, has confirmed that Canada will grant temporary residence permits to those stranded by the United States ban
Canadian government will offer temporary residence permits to travellers stranded in Canada by U.S. ban: Minister Hussen.
— CBC News Alerts (@CBCAlerts) January 29, 2017
As the letter, facilitated by Betakit, continues to circulate several publications such as the CBC have published it on their platforms. Canadian tech leaders have been outspoken about Donald Trump’s candidacy and election for quite some time and seem to continually support this message.
MobileSyrup reached out to several members of the tech community who signed the open letter. Saadia Muzzaffar, the founder of Tech Girls Canada and frequent speaker told MobileSyrup that she believes in Canada’s duty to uphold the inclusive policies the country has traditionally held dear.
“I migrated to Canada with my family when I was 19 years old, and I am the child of parents and grandparents who were all displaced from their homelands to search for peace and prosperity for their families, so the immigrant and refugee story is a personal one for me. Putting down roots by contributing to a new nation’s fabric and making it a home with great intentionality is a rewarding yet difficult mission to take on. One that requires commitment, resilience and faith,” she told MobileSyrup in a private message.
She went on to say that as a prosperous nation, it’s Canada’s responsibility to be a safe harbour for those who’ve been affected by the ban.
“We stand on the shoulders of giants, with both the US and Canada being countries built on the backs of immigrants and slaves,” she continued.
“This is not a charitable endeavour, it is our duty as global citizens.”
— Saadia Muzaffar (@ThisTechGirl) January 29, 2017
Other tech community members who’s signed the form include the CEO of technology PR firm Herscu and Goldsilver, Corey Herscu, whose own parents immigrated to Canada from Romania decades ago.
As a child of immigrants, Herscu calls the ban “embarrassing.”
“You’re classifying everyone because of that one percent of people who are radical or terrorists. It’s not only that it’s ignorant, but it’s wrong. It’s been fuelled by ego, and hatred and ignorance,” said Herscu.
Herscu went on to say that the Muslim-majority countries not included in the ban are those in which Trump has no business interests. This statement was confirmed recently by a Washington Post story, which states that the Trump Organization does not appear to be active in the nations restricted by the travel ban.
In addition, Abdullah Snobar, the executive director of the DMZ also signed the form in support of Canada’s continued inclusivity. The DMZ is known in many circles as Canada’s most highly regarded university incubator.
The Canadian tech community is inclusive, diverse and conscientious. At the DMZ, we’re greatly concerned about the impact of this order and any proposals that would marginalize a group of people. As a united tech community, we’ll continue to make our views on these issues heard.”
— The DMZ (@RyersonDMZ) January 29, 2017
The number of signatories on the list continues to grow, and major tech companies, including BlackBerry and Twitter Canada, have come out in support of the statements made through the open letter.
An open letter from the Canadian tech community: Diversity is our strength https://t.co/Kv75IxKwyf ????????
— Twitter Canada (@TwitterCanada) January 29, 2017
The Canadian government is in the process of responding to the Trump order and more information will be given as it becomes available.