They held up signs and chanted in protest.
They prayed for compassion and understanding.
As 490 Tamil migrants landed by ship in Greater Victoria on Friday, reactions came out on all sides.
David Poopalapillai, Gary Anandasangaree and others from the Canadian Tamil Congress rushed out to offer legal, medical and moral support to the new arrivals.
“Please ask the question, ‘What pushed them to make this dangerous voyage to this faraway land?’” said Poopalapillai.
Meanwhile, near the water at CFB Esquimalt, Paul Fromm led a protest complete with signs printed with “Send them back.”
Fromm heads up an activist group called Canada First Immigration Reform Committee, which has been labelled racist by media and anti-racist organizations.
From Toronto, Fromm amassed a dozen followers, four of whom were Victorians, he said, and the rest visiting from Montreal, Calgary and other parts of Canada.
He chastized Canadian policy-makers for being tolerant of the migrants’ arrival now, as well as in October when 76 Sri Lankan men arrived by boat and in 1999 when boatloads of 600 Chinese people arrived in Greater Victoria.
“Canadians have been cut out of the immigration debate,” Fromm said in an interview. “Canadians are not consulted and I encourage people to get on the phone and call their MP. This is the time to speak up.” Continued...