Kelefa Sanneh, CNN • Updated 24th January 2019
Editor’s Note — CNN’s “Faces of Canada” series shines a spotlight on Canadians who are making a difference in their communities.
( CNN ) — At first glance, the new immigrant settlement in Vaughan, Ontario, the prosperous Toronto suburb, might appear a mirage in an increasingly amorphous and polarizing world.
The complex maze of steps to make it there, through an elegantly restored mansion, flanked by a smooth concrete track, resembles a Swiss chalet. At the top, past a charming farmhouse, you discover a large prefab covered in iron rails and chain-link fencing, meant to look rustic but set upon a rugged landscape.
The gate is locked and the buildings appear unfinished, at least to the naked eye. But my editor, Alex Parnass, a Dominican, is the first to help me, nudge my car and activate the door codes.
Workers erect the “Canadian Dream House” in Vaughan, Ontario.
Inside the house, row upon row of intricately detailed rooms are tucked into narrow and doorless paths. Mixed with natural light, as well as sculptures made from blocks of crushed ice, these are human spaces that respond to the way you move through them.
It all appears magical, except for the one room that is visible to the untrained eye.
Construction was just beginning on the second story when we made the short drive to the site. That is, until a group of anti-wall activists stood in front of the steps and erected a banner to protest the structure — all by themselves.
Outside a home by the new immigration settlement, a group of activists staged a protest to condemn a fence that had been erected to protect the structure.
Within hours of the banner being draped, I was writing and posting from inside the new structure, the roof strung with solar panels (that I was likely watching progress through my peephole).
“If there is anything that Canada’s immigration policy has demonstrated, it’s that it’s designed not to work,” wrote Alex Parnass, the editor of this story.
“This failure also feeds into a broader phenomenon where Canada denies to its citizens the basic rights that we’re accustomed to in the rest of the world. This and other egregious issues were undoubtedly responsible for the departures to United States in recent weeks.”