Youth refugees take action locally

2014 Youth Action Gathering. | Photo courtesy of Janet Dench

2014 Youth Action Gathering. | Photo courtesy of Janet Dench

The Youth Action Gathering, put on by MOSAIC (who is a member of the Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Services Agencies of BC – AMSSA), the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) and the Vancouver Foundation brings young refugees and immigrants.

This year the CCR has asked for a partnership between MOSAIC and Vancouver Foundation’s Fresh Voices Initiative in order to host the event in Vancouver,” says Jorge Salazar, Project Manager of the Vancouver Foundation.

The Youth Action Gathering aims to encourage a supportive and respectful relationship between all refugees, regardless of backgrounds.

“Amazing things happen when you bring young people together. And in this case, the event will gather a particular sector of our society, which is the immigrant and refugee youth community,” adds Salazar.

Eyob Naizghi, Executive Director of MOSAIC, an organization that provides immigrant and refugee support, sees our youth as future leaders. He feels the Youth Action Gathering provides a platform on which to support youth and encourage them to strive in society.’

The ultimate goal

According to Eyob Naizghi, the objective of the Youth Action Gathering is to mobilize youth refugees and empower them through each other’s connection.

“They will be the owners of these issues and the associated strategic directions for action,’ Naizghi says of the youth.

Naizghi says MOSAIC is the local go-to place for immigrant and refugee support, prevention of youth gang violence, case management for refugee youth and refugee group networking. He hopes the Youth Action Gathering will help MOSAIC to build strong relationships within our communities.

“At the ground level, our staff are very connected with communities, and are very clued in on the challenges families and youth are struggling with.” Naizghi adds.

Naizghi feels the timing of the event parallels the current refugee situation particularly in Syria.

“This form is taking place at a critical time when the world is being exposed to the refugee crisis,” says Naizghi.

Connections made to last

Youth meeting other youth will have a wider network and develop leadership skills around diverse issues,” Naizghi explains.

Naizghi says different types of relationships form at the Youth Action Gathering, with the most important being between youth from different parts of the country.

“The relationships built will ensure a different lens in their integration process, as when young people encounter their peers in a safe space, the connections often help overcome barriers and strengthen their resiliency,” adds Salazar.

A call to the public

Naizghi says the partner organizations all work together to create solutions to the many youth refugee issues both locally and nationally. He believes the public, especially a culturally diverse place like Vancouver, has the ability to help migrant youth via the organization putting on events like the Youth Action Gathering.

“I think the call to action to the public should be to support the community organizations such as the CCR and MOSAIC directly involved in organizing the youth action form so we can sustain the longevity of, and implementation of their action plan.” Naizghi says. “Investment in our youth is an action the public can support.”

The Youth Action Gathering will be taking place Oct 3–4 at UBC Robson Square. For more information, please visit