Like many in Lewiston’s French community, one set of my grandparents came from Canada during the Depression to seek a new and, it was hoped, healthier and more prosperous life in America. They worked hard after they arrived. There were no signs at the Northern border saying they were not welcome because their help was needed (just as, using one example today, migrant help is crucially needed in the vast western agricultural industry).

In Lewiston, Depression-era mills required a hard-work ethic, and they received it from the inhabitants of “Little Canada,” just as they did from many of the immigrant populations that came before and after — the Irish, the Italians, the Jewish, the Greeks and, most recently, the Somali community. My grandfather worked in the forests and received a dollar for each cord of wood he produced. My grandmother took part-time work and raised their large family.

Recently, when I saw a photo of a young Honduran girl waving the American flag as she surged with her mother toward the U.S. southern border, I saw my grandmother (and countless other future grandparents) smiling as they approached the land that held out the hope, the possibility, of a better, healthier and safer life for their children.

And all I wanted to say to that little girl was, “Come on, Mémé, come on … you are welcome here.”

Paul Baribault, Lewiston

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