Canadian tech community bands together in open letter supporting diversity


In the wake of US President Donald Trump’s executive order banning nationals from seven primarily-Muslim countries, Canadian tech leaders have come together and released an open letter supporting Prime Minister Trudeau’s stance on inclusivity and diversity.

When the letter, with the support of Betakit, first started making headlines and circulating social media yesterday, 150 members of the tech community had signed it. At the time of this publication, the list has grown to over 1700 signatures.

The order bans travel to the United States from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia for 90 days. The order is one of several that Trump has signed during his first days in office, and has prompted international backlash and protests since its announcement.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a response through Twitter on Saturday welcoming refugees to Canada and affirming our country’s strength in diversity.

The open letter released yesterday stands in support of Trudeau’s comment, and calls on him to immediately give temporary residency to those displaced by the US order. With the support of Betakit, the signatures have steadily grown and now include Shopify COO Harley Finklestein, Omers Ventures CEO John Ruffolo, and Kobo and League founder Michael Serbinis.

Many members of the Montreal tech community have signed as well, including Executive Director of QueerTech MTL and MTLNEWTECH Naoufel Testaouni, multiple investors from Real Ventures, and David Dufresne of 500 Startups.

“I signed the open letter because I agree with its message,” Dufresne told MTLinTECH. “As a human being, I’m appalled by the racist and divisive policies of Trump and his pathetic group of advisors.  As a member of the Canadian tech and innovation communities I consider that immigration and welcoming refugees is something where our country should continue to lead by example and it is important to say it, loud and often.  Especially considering that we’re not at all safe from populist and xenophobic ideologies, politicians and media.”

In addition to calling on the community to stand together in opposition to the marginalization of people based on their birthplace, race, or religion, the letter encourages those members of the tech community to share their own personal stories and immigrant experiences publicly.

“I am the son of immigrants,” Michael Serbinis wrote in a blog post on Leauge. “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.”

Signatures on the open letter and shared personal experiences both continue to grow.

To add your name, sign here.

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