Refugees share their stories of struggle and success in resettlement

The platform aims to highlight contributions and resettlement experiences of refugees | Photo courtesy of Liu Institute for Global Issues

The Unique Lived Experiences of Refugees in Metro Vancouver, A Public Forum, will be held on Saturday, Oct. 27 from 10 a.m.–3:30 p,m, at MOSAIC located at 5575 Boundary Road in Vancouver.

The forum aims to highlight the contributions and resettlement experiences of refugees who put down new roots in Metro Vancouver.

“Each refugee who arrives in Metro Vancouver brings their own unique experiences,” says Saleem Spindari, manager of Refugees and Migrant Workers Programs at MOSAIC and the forum’s moderator. “They come to seek safety and protection. At the same time, they bring their talents and have strengths. At the forum, all these issues will be discussed.”

The forum

As the forum’s moderator, Spindari will invite panellists to share their stories of settlement and the ups and downs of their new lives in Canada.

“Keynote speakers are former refugees who are very active within their own communities,” says Spindari.

According to Spindari, about eight people are expected to talk at the forum, including a rep-
resentative from Squamish and Nisga’a Nations.

The predicted turnout of 120 participants will have opportunities to ask questions, share their thoughts and be a part of the dialogue, which will take place in the form of panel sessions and small group dis-
cussions. During the forum, attendees will also be able to network and gain access to resources on refugee resettlement.

In addition to panel sessions and small group discussions, there will be a screening of the film Wajd – Songs of Separation, by Amar Chebib. The film tells the tale of three friends living in Aleppo, Syria who use their love of music to find meaning in the aftermath of the revol-
ution while they face their traumatic pasts and rebuild their lives in exile.

DJ Judi Sketch Lewinson will also provide live music over lunch provided by Calabash Bistro. Spindari hopes that the use of multiple mediums will help make the forum more interactive and informative for
participants.

Diverse topics at a crucial time

Many topics covered at the forum will include talks by refugees living with disabilities,
refugees that come from LGTBQ+ communities, and refugees who self-identify as members of diverse ethnic, religious, gender and social groups. Spindari stresses the importance of giving each refugee’s story equal consideration; every story lends a new perspective and teaches a valuable lesson about what settlement can look like for refugees in Metro Vancouver.

“It is important to hear from them because we need to listen to their unique lived exper-
iences, understand their issues, learn about their strengths and learn how to be aware of their past and present struggles and successes,” states Spindari.

Spindari hopes that the dialogue
generated at the forum will help eliminate the many misconceptions that exist regarding what it means to be a refugee.

“This forum comes at a very crucial time when misinfor-
mation is widespread about refugees in general,” says Spindari. “The forum will provide a good opportunity to hear first-hand how former refugees are contributing to building a stronger community.”

For more information about The Unique Lived Experiences of Refugees in Metro Vancouver, A Public Forum, please visit www.liu.arts.ubc.ca

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