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.
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.