ROTHENBURGER – To Donald Trump, from all those shithole countries

My grandmother, Justina Schultz, came to Canada from the Ukraine when she was 13. She helped build this country.

U.S. President Donald Trump complained about immigration from “shithole countries” Thursday. The Washington Post, based on sources who were present at the time, quoted him as saying “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” He was referring to immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and some African nations. Why not, he said, more people from Norway?

It remains to be seen whether he’ll add other countries to his shit list, or in any way clarify or own his comments but, in response, I republish a column I wrote almost a year ago on the subject of immigration, just in case there are any Canadians out there who think Donald Trump has it right.

It was published Feb. 18, 2017 under the headline, “The next time you worry about immigrants, spit into a tube and send it to the lab”: 

I SPIT INTO a plastic tube a few weeks ago and popped it in the mail. This week, I got the results and the verdict is in — I am a classic universal Canadian.

DNA testing for ethnic origins is popular these days, and discovering who you are and where you came from is fun stuff. What I found out has made me think about the conversation involving immigrants.

I already knew my great-grandparents on my father’s side emigrated from Germany to the Ukraine. My grandparents emigrated from there to Canada, where they began a new life in a dirt-floor cabin on the Prairies.

On my mom’s side, my great-great-grandfather came from Scotland and married a number of First Nations women or, at least, fathered children with them.

Personally, I find other people’s genealogy boring, and I’m not going to bore you with mine. What the DNA test — which isn’t all that expensive by the way and, admittedly, fallible and a little controversial — told me is the percentage of DNA I’ve inherited from my various ancestors: First Nations, Scottish, Irish, Scandinavian, Hawaiian, German, Ukrainian and Russian.

That makes it hard to know what holidays to celebrate and whether to do a jig or a sword dance, drink beer or vodka. I’ve long envied those who enjoy clarity of culture, who easily identify with a certain national history and ethnicity. On the upside, it’s pretty cool to have a choice.

I now know the answer to the question, what religion do you get when you blend native spirituality, Catholicism, Lutheranism, polytheism, animism and Celtic paganism? An agnostic with mild vertigo.

Canada is a collection of such people. Other than my First Nations ancestors, the rest came from somewhere else, and some of them somewhere else before that. That’s how Canada came to be and continues to thrive.

Yet some people think we should stop immigration. Stop the very thing that made us who we are, literally. Native Indian activists resent the historic invasion of Europeans. The descendants of Europeans resent the intrusion of Asians. Stop the refugees. Keep out the Syrians. Fear the Muslims.

We can’t reproduce at a high enough rate to replace ourselves, yet we talk of immigrants taking our jobs, we worry about importing terrorists, we distrust people who dress or worship differently than ourselves.

We think if we were all one color, one shape, wore one uniform, worshipped one god, our problems would be solved. It’s crazy, it’s stupid, and it’s impossible.

How can we be so fixated on imagined grievances against the substance of our very own roots? Am I less worthy because my blood is 11 per cent native and someone else’s is 100 per cent? Am I better than someone else because I’m 85 per cent Caucasian and they’re 80 per cent? If I’m one per cent Kanaka am I somehow contaminated? My opinions less valid, my skills less valuable? My right to be here challenged? Am I less Canadian?

Did my ancestors, and I, not build this country too?

We’re all in this world, and this country, together. How boring we would be if we were all the same.

So to you who want to turn back the clock, or want to stain everyone the same colour, who want to re-write history and close the borders, I say get over it. We’re all here. And more of us are coming.

And if you have any doubt about the future, spit into a plastic tube and send it to the lab. What comes back to you will be a story about Canada.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops, former school board chair, former editor of The Kamloops Daily News, and a current director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He was awarded the Jack Webster Foundation’s lifetime achievement award in 2011. His editorials are published Monday through Thursdays, and Saturdays on CFJC Today, CFJC Midday and CFJC Evening News. Contact him at

About Mel Rothenburger (6398 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

10 Comments on ROTHENBURGER – To Donald Trump, from all those shithole countries

  1. As for Trump,he,s aroused a great deal of interest, but not to worry He,like THE MINE will fade off into the distance and soon we hope, along with FPTP.

  2. As old Mr Layburn,a fat old man across the alley at 13th and Quebec,just another friendly neighbour who used to putter over and watch this kid working on his Model T Ford,said to me one day,” One day,we,ll all be chocolate coloured”. I don,t remember what brought that remark on but I,ve never forgotten it.

  3. Good take on the melting pot that we really are. In addition to your list of immigrants in your heritage, First Nation People were once immigrants, too. We all got here from somewhere, we are all immigrants/humans of one race, the human race.

  4. Trump would get further if he just shut his shit hole, er , I mean mouth.

  5. Tracey Pointer // January 12, 2018 at 11:51 AM // Reply

    Why would anyone from Norway come to a shit hole country led by that maggot?

  6. My wife and I mailed our cheek swabs off to the lab 3 days ago and are looking forward to whatever results come back. I’m hoping for a surprise or two.

  7. For a long time I have secretly wished that people such as the ones that are in the KKK and any other radical group should have to do a DNA test. I am sure the results would be eye opening for them.

  8. M. Rose McArthur // January 12, 2018 at 10:18 AM // Reply

    This is very interesting, makes me wonder how many people out here who are racist not only to the immigrants, but toward First Nations , carry First Nations blood in their veins or any other immigrant blood… I enjoyed this write up, gives good food for thought and makes you think

  9. For the last 2 years, I have placed a wreath on Remembrance Day for the British Home Children and their descendants. They came as children and left as Canadians !

  10. Shit-hole Countries mostly brought to you by proxies of Western Imperialism, taking away resources and giving them armaments and despair.
    Trump is unbelievably out of touch, in such depth I never thought possible.

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