Human rights and democratic values are principles that many Canadians take for granted. Not so for many immigrants and refugees who have chosen to make Canada their home.
Many come from countries where a lack of civil liberties and democracy is the norm. They arrive in Canada full of hope and optimism, to build a life and become part of the vibrant fabric that makes up the GTA.
But their hearts and passions are divided. Many speak out, criticize and protest against events in their homeland. It's a thankless task. Theirs are voices in the wilderness.
But they speak out nonetheless.
“Why do I do it?” asked Tity Faye, a 56-year-old native of Guinea who fled his homeland in 2000. Why does he continue to speak out about the lack of democracy in his homeland?
The former journalist and press specialist with the United Nations Development Program fled after being targeted for criticizing the military junta of General Lansana Conté.
Faye now works as a French teacher in Mississauga. He could, if he wanted to, forget about the political strife in Guinea. He came to Canada, eventually winning refugee status with his wife and two of his three children. He has made a comfortable life for himself and his family. He could easily turn his back on the West African nation that was his home.
But he doesn’t. Guinea haunts him. In his blog — chronafric.com — he calls out for democracy and human rights. He has also written a book, criticizing the military leaders who have suppressed democracy in his homeland.
“I do it because I have three kids. I have a daughter who is now 24. I have friends and family. It’s the country I was born in. I would like the country to be free and have democracy so one day my kids can go from Canada with their friends to visit the country safely, to do business safely … ”
So he plugs away, writing on his blog, doing radio interviews with such organizations as Voice of America. He is publishing an online book, Guinee: Chronique d’une democratie annoncee, that offers a detailed analysis of the military juntas that have kept tight control over the nation, the current president Alpha Condé and a mass rape and massacre of thousands of women in a stadium in September 2009.
“I started this fight with friends of mine in Guinea because we were convinced that these people deserve democracy. They deserve the right to say what they want about their country. I’m outside; I have to continue to support them in this fight.”