Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Orange Ribbon Campaign - Celebrating Refugees: Maryam Monsef

Part 8 of our Celebrating Refugees Series takes us to the Honourable Maryam Monsef. Monsef is a Canadian politician of Afghan descent. She is a Member of Canada's Parliament for Peterborough-Kawartha, and a Minister in Prime Minister Trudeau`s Cabinet.

Monsef's father died when she was still an infant and her mother struggled to raise her three daughters under the growing problems in Afghanistan. She moved the family between Iran and Afghanistan for many years, until they finally made the journey to Canada as refugees, settling in Peterborough, Ontario.

Monsef went to Trent University, earned a degree in Psychology and co-founded a grassroots initiative called the Red Pashmina Campaign - an effort to help support women in Afghanistan.

Monsef's induction into politics happened when she ran for mayor of Peterborough in 2014. She did not win, but the Liberal Party of Canada chose her to represent them in the upcoming federal election. She was elected on the 19th of October 2015. PM Justin Trudeau soon appointed her as the Minister of Democratic Institutions and later the Minister of the Status of Women. She is the second-youngest Canadian minister ever.

Orange Ribbon Campaign - Celebrating Refugees: Maryam Monsef from CFN Productions on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Orange Ribbon Campaign - Celebrating Refugees: Hyam Abu Nada

June 20th was World Refugee Day, but Refugee Month and the Orange Ribbon Campaign continue throughout June. Part 7 of 9 in our Celebrating Refugees series takes us to Hyam Abu Nada. Hyam is not a Governor General or a Cabinet Minister, nor is she a famous musician or an acclaimed writer. She is just a woman, just an ordinary person like you and me, except for the fact that she was forced to flee her home in search of hope and freedom, and who is now working so very hard to make a new life here in Calgary.

Hyam has a Bachelor's Degree in Food Science Technology and has worked as a Project Coordinator, a Field Supervisor and an Agricultural Engineer in Gaza, Palestine. The Gaza Strip is home to 1.8 million people, people who face poverty, mass unemployment, a crippling lack of electrical power and infrastructure, and the ever present fear of sudden conflict.  In many ways, Life is in Ruins in Gaza.

We had the chance to talk with Hyam about her journey to Canada, about what she's found most difficult and most surprising since her arrival, and about what message she has for the people of Canada. Watch below to hear her answers to these questions and more.

Orange Ribbon Campaign - Celebrating Refugees: Hyam Abu Nada from CFN Productions on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

AGM & World Refugee Day @ CFN

Yesterday CFN held its Annual General Meeting & World Refugee Day Celebrations and CFN would like to send out a big thank you to all those who participated in what was a special day.

In the end, CFN is Calgary; CFN is Canada and our heart, like the heart that drives World Refugee Day, can perhaps best be summarized by a single word - hope.  Canada, more than ever, truly is a beacon of hope to the world.  For all our flaws, for all the challenges that still lay in front of us, we are a nation where individuals are treated with respect, have equal rights, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of sexual orientation, free education and healthcare, and can live life, for the most part, as we see fit, without fear of repercussion, and with pride and hope for the future. As Canada approaches its 150th birthday, pride is another word that comes to mind. Hope and pride; yes indeed Canada is simply one of the best places in our big wide world in which to live out the human experience.

CFN thanks our community partners and collaborators, our fellow settlement agencies, along with the host of passionate and driven non-profits that burn bright throughout our great city and serve to better the city in which we all live; we thank the hundreds of our volunteers who donate their time to help improve the lives of others; we thank the more than 130 people who come to work at CFN everyday and work hard to build the community around them; we thank our heartfelt Board, our spirited leadership, but most of all we thank all those who are now working so very hard to make Calgary their new home - who in the process make Canada the glorious country it has always been.

And therein lies our responsibility as a community. All of us here at CFN will surely do our best, each and every day, to help them, in any way we can, throughout their journey; to assist these newcomers, into a city, a culture and a country that was built upon the ideals of pride and hope, upon the ideals that serve as a driving force behind all those looking to make something better for themselves and their families.  For photos of our Annual General Meeting CLICK HERE, to download a copy of CFN's Annual Report CLICK HERE, and for a quick by the numbers glance of Fiscal Year 2016-17 simply watch below.

CFN's Annual General Meeting: FY 2016-17 By The Numbers from CFN Productions on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Orange Ribbon Campaign - Celebrating Refugees: Dany Laferrière

Part 6 of our Celebrating Refugees Series take us to Dany Laferrière, a Haitian-Canadian novelist and journalist who writes in French. Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and raised in Petit-Goâve, Laferrière worked as a journalist in Haiti before moving to Canada in 1976. He also worked as a journalist in Canada, and hosted television programming for the TQS network. Laferrière published his first novel, Comment faire l'amour avec un nègre sans se fatiguer (How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired) in 1985. The novel was later adapted into a screenplay by Laferrière and Richard Sadler, earning a Genie Award nomination for best adapted screenplay at the 11th Genie Awards in 1990. The film adaptation of the novel starred Isaach De Bankolé and was directed by Jacques W. Benoit.

Orange Ribbon Campaign - Celebrating Refugees:Dany Laferrière from CFN Productions on Vimeo.

In 2009, Laferrière won the prestigious Prix Médicis for his 11th novel, L'énigme du retour. Upon receiving the prize, he commented on its ability to open up a new readership in France, giving him visibility there. .On 3 June 2014, he was awarded the International Literature Award by the House of World Cultures for his novel The Return. In 2015, Laferrière was awarded the Order of Canada.

June 20th is World Refugee Day

Here at the CFN, today, we celebrate World Refugee Day. Last year we started #RefugeeDayYYC to go along with our city wide, month long Orange Ribbon Campaign to bring awareness to the plight of refugees and to honour their strength, courage and resilience. World Refugee Day commemorates the obstacles refugees face each year, while also celebrating their courage and strength. Since 2001, the United Nations and more than 100 countries have observed World Refugee Day annually on June 20th. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has started the #WithRefugees petition to send a message of action, solidarity, and responsibility on behalf of refugees to governments worldwide.

Together, we can work to end the refugee crisis and find homes for displaced peoples worldwide. Here are several facts to help you better understand the current refugee crisis:
  • According to the UNHCR, there are 65.3 million forcibly displaced people around the world. 
  • More than 21 million of these people are refugees and 10 million are stateless. 
  • On average, 42,500 people per day flee their homes to seek protection within the borders of their own country or other countries.
  • In the last year alone, there have been 13.9 million people newly displaced.
  • The civil war in Syria has led to one of the worst humanitarian crises of our lifetime.
  • More than 11 million Syrians are currently displaced. This amounts to 45% of the Syrian population.
  • 86% of the world's refugees are hosted by developing countries.
  • This number has jumped by 16% in the last decade. Refugees only account for a tiny percentage of overall immigration.
  • The world’s largest refugee camp is located in Dadaab, Kenya, which is home to more than 329,000 people.
  • The Dadaab refugee camp was been threatened with closures due to potential security risks.
  • Of the 20 million refugees worldwide, 51% are under the age of 18.
  • This is the highest number of child refugees since World War II. 
  • The first-ever Refugee Team competed at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. 
  • The team was comprised of athletes from Ethiopia, South Sudan, The Democratic Republic of Congo, and Syria.

Monday, June 19, 2017

CFN @ SocialWest

Last week CFN attended SocialWest, an exciting multi-day conference developed for those working in communications, marketing and social media. Attendees experienced sessions, panels and workshops lead by the industry's foremost experts. Over the course of SocialWest, speakers shared the elements of truly successful social media and digital strategies for businesses big and small. SocialWest 2017 featured more than 30 speakers and experts from across the country. A worthwhile educational conference for social media and marketing professionals of all levels, we look forward to  attending again next year!


CFNs EthniCity Catering @ Feeding 5000

Feeding 5000 Calgary is a global initiative to raise awareness about food waste. The goal was to feed 5000 people with food that would have otherwise ended up being thrown away. Originating in England, Feeding 5000 has since become a global movement. Since then, Feeding 5000 events have happened in cities across Europe and North America with CFNs EthniCity Catering having the privilege of participating in Calgary's inaugural Feeding 5000.

Held at Olympic Plaza on Thursday, the event fed nearly 7000 people, while saving more than 1,000 kilograms of food from the landfill.

Food was donated by local farms, grocery stores and wholesalers, and put together in creative ways by chefs right here in YYC. The chefs, including Ethnicity Catering's Mark Sefton, treated the public to some delicious meals. The event was made possible by the hard work of hundreds of volunteers, who spent the week prepping for the event.  Leftovers from Feeding 5000 were donated to the Drop-In Centre, Alpha House and the Dream Centre. For more Photos of the event CLICK HERE. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Orange Ribbon Campaign - Celebrating Refugees: Ahmed Hussen

Part 5 of our Celebrating Refugees Series take us to the Honourable Ahmed Hussen. As a young boy, he left war torn Somalia to forge a new life in Toronto. He first resided in Hamilton and later moved to Canada's largest city in 1993.  In 1996 he moved to Regent Park.

It was his experience living in Regent Park that drew him into politics. Hussen co-founded the neighbourhood association that pushed for the inclusion of more public housing in the $500-million redevelopment of the community, and eventually became a prominent voice as president of the Canadian Somali Congress. For his post-secondary studies, Hussen attended York University, earning a BA in History in 2002. Hussen later received a law degree from the University of Ottawa, and passed the bar exam in September 2012.

In December 2014, he presented himself as a candidate for a Liberal Party of Canada seat in the riding of York South—Weston for the 42nd Canadian federal election. Hussen won the nomination in a field of six aspirants and little more than a year later was named Minister of Immigration, Refugees an and Citizenship by Prime Minster Justin Trudeau.

Orange Ribbon Campaign - Celebrating Refugees: Ahmed Hussen from CFN Productions on Vimeo.

When it comes to refugees, simply put, the world is in the midst of a global displacement crisis the likes of which has not been seen since WWII. Below are some facts:
  • At the end of 2016 there were 65.3 million forcibly displaced people. They included 21.3 million refugees, 40.8 million internally displaced and 3.2 million asylum seekers.
  • If they were a country they would be the world's 21st largest.
  • More than half of refugees come from just three countries: Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia.
  • Developing regions host 86 percent of refugees.
  • Turkey hosts by far the largest number with more than 3 million refugees and asylum-seekers, including 2.7 million Syrians.
  • Lebanon has the highest concentration relative to its own population with nearly one in five people being a refugee.
  • Globally, nearly one in 200 children is a refugee. The number of child refugees has more than doubled in the last decade.
  • Growing numbers of children are crossing borders alone. Last year, more than 100,000 unaccompanied minors applied for asylum in 78 countries - triple the number in 2015.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Best of Calgary & Around the World

The Best of Calgary, in collaboration with First Calgary Financial and CFN, put on the ultimate cultural experience that fully satisfied everyone's international palate. The Around the World Dinner brought together a tasty menu of dishes exclusively catered by CFNs Ethnicity Catering, that explored food from five refugee countries including Syria, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Congo and Albania.

The multiple course dinner also featured a representative from each country, who spoke of their homeland and their experiences of immigrating to Calgary. The Around the World Dinner was chosen to be a part of the Best of Calgary Interactive labs and experiences, citing the Centre for Newcomers is an important component of the community in our city.

EthniCity Catering is a social enterprise of the Centre for Newcomers that provides transitional employment and training for immigrant and refugee women and men, and a multi-ethnic menu for Calgary customers. Offering a temporary and part-time Canadian job, along with training to work in a commercial kitchen, the program also presents the opportunity to learn essential life skills and workplace training, along with a food safety card from Alberta Health Services and support in looking for permanent work.

All of us here at CFN extend our thanks to Best of Calgary, First Calgary Financial, our evening's guests and of course our international table hosts. For photos of the event CLICK HERE and for a quick peek at the evening's highlights watch below.

Around the World Dinner from CFN Productions on Vimeo.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Ethno-Cultural & Intergenerational @ CFN

CFN organized an intergenerational session for ethno-cultural community leaders this past Saturday. This event was a part of CFN's community building and engagement strategy. Youth from diverse communities narrated the unique challenges they face on issues such as stereotyping, culture clashes, racism, exploitation, parental control and more. Community seniors and leaders then delved into how to navigate those challenges.

The event was an endeavour to directly address the struggles of immigrant youth and children, who often feel marginalized even as newcomers try and settle in Canada facing numerous financial, settlement, cultural and linguistic hurdles. For immigrants, parenting is more complex process because it is challenged by changes in family roles, values and a lack of extended family support. An intergenerational conflict arises in terms of divergent expectations of parents and their children.

Having a conversation about these youth issues also gels well with the mission and vision of CFN since we manage two services for the youth - Youth Possibilities Program (YPP) and the RealMe initiative. Some of the outcomes centring on capacity building focused around youth empowerment, evolving a community integration strategy, inter-cultural mingling and providing a positive sense of direction to the new generation.

As many as 49 community members, including 27 youth, drawn from 18 ethno-cultural organizations participated in the event. Some agencies mandated to deal with youth issues were also in attendance. CFN sends out a heartfelt thank you to all who contributed towards making this day such a great success, most especially those young people who are taking an active role in bettering the community and leading their peers and beyond by example. Keep up the great work! For more photos of the event CLICK HERE.

Orange Ribbon Campaign - Celebrating Refugees: Michaelle Jean

The Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Canadian journalist and documentarian who was Canada’s 27th governor-general (2005–10) and the first person of African heritage to hold that post. She later became the first woman to serve as secretary-general of the Organization Internationale de la Francophonie (2015– ).

Jean’s family was descended from slaves. Her father suffered imprisonment and torture under the regime of François Duvalier, leading to the family’s flight to Canada when Jean was age 11. They settled in Montreal. Jean proved to be a brilliant student, studying languages and literature at the University of Montreal, where she earned a master’s degree in comparative literature. She also attended universities in Italy and France.

A social activist, Jean mixed freely in the diverse world of Montreal’s ethnic communities, honing a perfect command of French and English in the process. Embarking on a career in broadcast journalism, she became a popular commentator on the French-language network of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and also worked frequently on the English network. From 2001 Jean worked as an anchor for Radio-Canada’s Le Téléjournal, and in 2004 she began to host her own television interview show.

On Sept. 27, 2005, Jean was officially installed as Canada’s governor-general. She was the first black person and the first Haitian immigrant to hold the prestigious post as the British monarch’s viceregal representative in Canada. The appointment brought out, in a striking fashion, the changing nature of modern Canada: since World War II Canada had become a genuinely multicultural society, with attitudes influenced by the heavy flow of immigrants.

Orange Ribbon Campaign - Celebrating Refugees: Michelle Jean from CFN Productions on Vimeo.

When it comes to refugees, it should always be remembered that they are people who come to Canada having left their homes, and in many cases they have had to live in refugee camps for many years. When they arrive in Canada, they have to start their lives over again.

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), along with private sponsors, identifies refugees for resettlement. A person cannot apply directly to Canada for resettlement. After they are identified, it takes time to process the cases. Private sponsors across the country also help resettle refugees to Canada. Some do this on an ongoing basis. They have signed sponsorship agreements with the Government of Canada to help support refugees. These groups are known as Sponsorship Agreement Holders. Sponsorship Agreement Holders can sponsor refugees themselves, or work with others in the community to do so.

Other sponsors, known as Groups of Five and Community Sponsors, are people or groups in the community who have come together to sponsor refugee(s). They do not generally sponsor refugees on an ongoing basis. The Blended Visa Office-Referred (BVOR) Program matches refugees identified by the UNHCR with private sponsors in Canada.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Orange Ribbon Campaign: Celebrating Refugees: K'Naan

As a part of our Orange Ribbon Campaign, we will be highlighting some of Canada's most well known refugees throughout the month to bring awareness to the highest numbers of displaced people on record and to honour the strength, courage and resilience of refugees the world over. Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, just as the civil unrest that rocked the country was beginning, musical artist K'Naan spent the early years of his life trying to avoid death and listening to the hip-hop records sent to him from America by his father, who had left Somalia earlier. When K'Naan (whose name means "traveler" in Somali) was 13, he and his mother arrived in Rexdale, Ontario as refugees.

In tenth grade he dropped out of school and traveled North America for two years, performing occasionally. He was able to perform at the United Nations' 50th anniversary concert in 1999, held in Geneva, where he used his platform to publicly criticize the United Nations' handling of the Somali crisis in the 1990s. One of the audience members, Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour, was so impressed by the young MC's performance and courage that he invited him to contribute to his 2001 album Building Bridges, a project through which K'NAAN was able to tour the world.

His seminal work The Dusty Foot Philosopher came out in 2005 and in 2007, the live album On the Road appeared. Two years later, the album Troubadour became K'Naan's first for the major-label A&M. After his track "Wavin' Flag" became the anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, his More Beautiful Than Silence EP arrived in 2012.

The world, our world is now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. An unprecedented 65.3 million people around the globe have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 21.3 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. There are also 10 million stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement. In a world where nearly 34,000 people are forcibly displaced every day as a result of conflict or persecution, the role of the international community is more important than ever before.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

CFN Helps Build Legacy Forest for Canada 150

Canada is a country well known for it's beautiful landscapes and majestic forests, both rural and urban, so what better way to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary than by planting a tree?

Last Saturday @ Bowmont Park volunteers planted 150 trees for Canada's 150th birthday 

Urban trees are great for the environment as they help offset the effects of climate change, prevent soil erosion and act as carbon sinks. Urban forests also provide ecosystem habitats for wildlife, decrease air pollution and play a large role in urban water management. Further still, street trees increase property values by as much as 20%, increase traffic safety, reduce utility bills and add beauty to the area.

Over the weekend,  CFN took a number of Syrian refugees from our Volunteer Led Refugee Integration Project to participate in planting trees with the Calgary Horticultural Society to celebrate Canada's 150th. The goal was to plant a legacy forest made up of 150 Trembling Aspen at Bowmont Park to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday. Newcomers were also engaged in discussions about the importance of history, the canopies of both Calgary and all of Canada. Moreover, the event proved to be a wonderful opportunity for our clients to participate in and feel the values of volunteering - an important part of the Canadian culture.

CFN clients who participated in the tree planting are a part of a project designed to meet the demand of a larger influx of refugees accessing services at CFN and to respond to the offers of volunteer support from the community at large - creating a volunteer led response in the process. This offers the ability for refugees on wait-lists to still be in touch with CFN, gaining networking skills and learning about the community as a result. Volunteers are involved in the integration process through networking and building community with newcomers. CFN staff act as liaisons to assist the volunteers, coordinate efforts and invite refugee clients to activities such as computer training and conversation classes, along with events like field trips to places like the Calgary Tower, Telus Sparks, or the Calgary Zoo. For more details on this project visit our website and to hear from a volunteer working with the project itself simply watch below.

Volunteer Led Refugee Integration Project @ CFN from CFN Productions on Vimeo.

Orange Ribbon Campaign - Celebrating Refugees: Ricardo Miranda

According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, in 2016 Canada admitted the largest number of refugees in a single year in nearly four decades.

The resettlement of 46,700 refugees in 2016 marks a tremendous achievement and a record for Canada since 1978, when the Immigration Act came into effect.

The record number includes both privately-and government-sponsored refugees. According to the UNHCR, the top five countries of origin in 2016 for refugees were Syria at 33,266; Eritrea at 3,934; Iraq at 1,650; at Congo at 1,644 and Afghanistan at 1,354.

The Liberal government’s pledge to take in 25,000 Syrian refugees in 2015 – and thousands more since – has become one of Canada’s largest resettlement efforts in our nation's history. The previous record for refugee intake in a single year was set in 1980, when Canada accepted 40,271 people during the resettlement of Indochinese refugees.

As a part of our Orange Ribbon Campaign, we will be highlighting some of Canada's most well known refugees throughout the month and this takes us to the Honourable Ricardo Miranda. In 1988 Nicaragua was a disaster zone, ravaged by civil war and the onslaught of Hurricane Hugo. It was at this time the Miranda and his family arrived in Canada as refugees. Miranda was just 9 years old. 30 years later Miranda ran for and became MLA for Calgary-Cross.  Not long after he was appointed to the provincial cabinet becoming Alberta’s Minister Culture and Tourism. When Miranda took charge of Alberta’s Culture & Tourism Department he made further history, becoming the first openly gay cabinet minister in the province’s 112 year history.

Orange Ribbon Campaign - Celebrating Refugees: Ricardo Miranda from CFN Productions on Vimeo.

Monday, June 5, 2017

London Drugs’ #Welcoming150 Campaign Supporting Refugee Families in Calgary

London Drugs has launched #Welcoming150, a special program and donation drive that will support 150 new Canadian families across Western Canada who left their country of origin sometimes due to unsafe circumstances. As part of celebrating Canada 150, the program will support families identified as still-in-need by participating agencies.

Calgarians can visit any Calgary London Drugs location to learn about the families adopted by stores, and donate items based on the specific needs of those families. Items donated will then be delivered to the families before Canada Day on July 1, 2017.

London Drugs stores in Calgary are proud to be supporting refugee families through Centre for Newcomers as well as nine other partner organizations in the city.

“Our customers show us time and time again, that they want to support people in their local communities,” said Benjamin Pullein, Store Manager, London Drugs Calgary.

“Because of this, it’s important for us to provide these opportunities where we can, to help connect our store staff and our customers to the people in our community that can use a little extra support and care. Together, we can make a significant positive impact supporting these families in need.”

According to participating agencies, there is continued need amongst refugee families in Calgary. Items needed currently include:

  • Hygiene products such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, tooth paste, etc.
  • Kitchen wares such as dishes, cutlery, cooking utensils, small appliances, etc.
  • Linens for the kitchen, bath and bedroom.
  • Food including snacks, cooking oil, rice, pasta, flour, cereal, juice, etc.
  • Cleaning supplies including laundry soap, broom, dust pan, iron, etc.
  • Family needs such as books, games or puzzles.

The inspiration behind #Welcoming150 is two-fold. First, it provides continued support for new Canadian families who come from unsafe backgrounds. Second, it honours the legacy of Tong Louie, whose family acquired London Drugs in 1945 and grew the company to what it is today. In 1914, Tong Louie was born to an immigrant Chinese family who owned a wholesale food business. Tong Louie and the Louie family have been instrumental in shaping today’s retail industry in Canada.

“Welcoming and helping newcomers distinguishes what makes Canada great and so we are very excited to launch and facilitate this support program in all London Drugs stores in June, across Western Canada,” said Clint Mahlman, executive vice president and chief operating officer, London Drugs. “

As a proud family-owned 72-year-old Canadian company, we will also be contributing corporately, alongside the donations from our customers and staff to ensure each family’s immediate needs are met.”

To learn more about the #Welcoming150, the families, and how you can support, please visit their website. 

Best of Calgary - Around the World Dinner from EthniCity Catering

Join the Best of Calgary for the ultimate cultural experience and satisfy your international palate. The Best of Calgary have brought together a tasty menu of dishes exclusively catered by CFNs Ethnicity Catering, that explores food from five refugee countries including Syria, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Congo and Albania.

The multiple course dinner will feature a representative from each country speaking of their experiences of immigrating to Calgary. The Around the World dinner was chosen to be a part of the Best of Calgary Interactive labs and experiences, as the Centre for Newcomers is an important component of the community in our city.

EthniCity Catering is a social enterprise of the Centre for Newcomers that provides transitional employment and training for immigrant and refugee women and men, and a multi-ethnic menu for Calgary customers. Offering a temporary and part-time Canadian job, along with training to work in a commercial kitchen, the program also presents the opportunity to learn essential life skills and workplace training, along with a food safety card from Alberta Health Services and support in looking for permanent work. For tickets CLICK HERE and for a more detailed description and a peek inside the kitchen, watch EthniCity Catering Program Manager and Chef Mark Sefton talk about this unique CFN venture below.

EthniCity Catering @ CFN from CFN Productions on Vimeo.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Orange Ribbon Campaign - Celebrating Refugees: Adrienne Clarkson

As one of our planet's most politically and economically stable countries, awash in natural resources with a firmly structured social democracy, Canada has both the ability and the international responsibility to bring refugees into the country. That being said doing so is also a necessity.

Without robust and multi-faceted immigration, demographic changes put increasing pressure on Canada's fast shrinking youth population. Diversity in a nation's population is also integrally linked with economic growth, and Canada’s official stance of multiculturalism serves to advance the benefits of diversity and inclusion as well as any country in the world.

Take a moment and do a Google search for the qualities employers most look for and traits like flexibility, loyalty, resiliency and hard-working are always at the top of the list. Study after study and first hand account after first hand account reveal refugees as being highly likely to have these traits. Moreover, they are often grateful when they find work. What is often forgotten is that these men, women and children have conquered the most difficult and often tragic of circumstances, losing everything, traversing unimaginable challenges and overcoming one roadblock after another - often just to stay alive. Those who make it to Canada are versatile and purposeful, they have gathered and calibrated large amounts of information, and adapted to environments that left no less than an unknown future staring back at them.

Throughout the month we will highlight some of those who arrived in Canada as refugees. Adrienne Louise Clarkson is a Hong Kong-born Canadian journalist, politician, and stateswoman who served as Governor General of Canada, the 26th since Canadian Confederation.

Clarkson arrived in Canada with her family in 1941, as a refugee from Japanese-occupied Hong Kong, and was raised in Ottawa. After receiving a number of university degrees, Clarkson worked as a producer and broadcaster for CBC and a journalist for a variety of magazines. Her first diplomatic posting came in the early 1980s, when she promoted Ontarian culture in France and other European countries.

In 1999 she was appointed Governor General by Queen Elizabeth II, on the recommendation of Prime Minister of Canada Jean Chrétien and she occupied the post until 2005. On October 3, 2005, Clarkson was sworn into the Queen's Privy Council for Canada. She subsequently published her memoirs, founded the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, and became Colonel-in-Chief of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

Orange Ribbon Campaign - Celebrating Refugees from CFN Productions on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Orange Ribbon Campaign Launches Today

June 20th is observed as “World Refugee Day” to honour the courage, strength and determination of women, men and children who are forced to flee their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict and violence. Building on this, today CFN officially launches our 2nd annual citywide Refugee Awareness Orange Ribbon Campaign to engage the broader community in showing your support for our new Calgarians. Beginning today, Orange Ribbons are available for purchase by donation at various businesses and organizations across the city. Wear an Orange Ribbon for the month of June and show your support for those who have been forced to flee their homes, their families, and their lives due to persecution or conflict.

Developing both an awareness and understanding of the complex nature of the refugee, due to many
factors and moving parts, is important toward acknowledging the international community's role in aiding refugees today.

Above all else, it is vital to understand the definition of the term "refugee," which according to international law is specifically someone who is fleeing armed conflict or persecution and has sought refuge across international borders. The UNHCR puts it plainly: "These are people for whom denial of asylum has potentially deadly consequences." Misunderstanding the term can have dangerous consequences for refugees, and often gives way to political debate and xenophobia in place of relief during a humanitarian crisis.

Lastly, while the media's focus is often on Europe and the numbers of refugees in Canada, it's important to raise awareness of the fact that the vast majority of refugees are displaced in Middle Eastern countries, such as Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, where massive populations are living in camps near the borders.

The still daily influx puts incredible strains on these host countries and their resources, especially being such small countries like Lebanon, which at the onset of 2016 had about 1.3 million refugees, while the country itself only has a population of 4.5 million. The 33,000 refugees absorbed into 35 million here in Canada over the course of 2016 pales by comparison.

Additionally, at 21 million people and 1.2 million in immediate need, there are more refugees from countries around the world now than at any point since WWII.  By extension, the time for awareness and understanding has perhaps never been greater. When it comes to the refugee crisis, a lack of awareness can result in fear, marginalization, and prejudice prior to these refugees even arriving. This campaign seeks to be a voice within the Calgary Community that spreads awareness online and through social media, in person and face to face, using both digital and print mediums, that will generate discussions among our own communities about the issues refugees are facing.

It is our hope that the campaign assists in creating a welcoming and inclusive environment that is appreciative of diversity, by increasing public awareness and understanding of the lived experience of refugees. Our vision is that increased knowledge of the issues and challenges faced by refugees will lead to community support in terms of volunteer efforts, donations and above all else, a desire to assist, contribute and empathize with the challenges in the long-term integration and successful resettlement of refugees in Calgary.

CFN has a proud 29 year history of welcoming and supporting immigrants and refugees from all corners of the world, providing programs, training and resources to support their settlement and integration within Calgary.  Each year, the Centre supports over 10,000 newcomers to settle and integrate and begin their lives as prosperous and hardworking new citizens in Canada.  We couldn’t do this work without the support of our community partners like you.

Throughout the month CFN will highlight stories of refugees across Canada, some of whom are in the image above. Stay tuned for this and more and thank you from all of us here at CFN for helping make our community the best it can be.