A Reddit post has likened some of the attitudes towards refugees fleeing war and famine today, to the prejudice received by Irish refugees arriving in Canada in the past.
The satirical letter references raids between 1866 and 1871 in Canada by the Fenian Brotherhood, who attempted to capture the country, and then hand it back to Britain in return for Ireland’s independence.
The Fenians launched a series of small, armed raids, but were quickly defeated and the group disbanded.
Published yesterday, the letter is dated as ‘June 1866’ and argues that all Irish newcomers should be viewed with suspicion.
“How can our government allow Irish immigrants to flow into this United Province of Canada while we continue to be terrorized by Fenian religious zealots?
“On every ship coming into Montreal or Halifax, hidden among the malnourished, diseased Irish there are sure to be Fenian terrorists ready to slit your throat at the first opportunity. This needs to stop now.”
The letter is satirically attributed to Rev John Strachan, the first Anglican Bishop of Toronto who was a senior political figure in the 1800s.
It adds: “It is our sacred duty to preserve Canadian values now, before it’s too late. In 150 years your children’s children will look back and know that you did the right thing.”
The popularity of the post has kept it on the front page of Reddit’s Canada discussion forum. It has sparked a wide-ranging conversation, with commenters adding that Irish people form a significant and welcome part of Canada’s society today.