Jumpstart Refugee Talent partnered with leading organizations across Canada to jointly deliver the first ever National World Refugee Day online event.
With over 150 attendees from coast to coast, the event began with opening remarks from Minister of Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees Marco Mendicino. He spoke of what Canada is doing but also shared inspiring tales of strong refugee contributions to Canada. He graciously also answered questions prepared by our refugee community.
Following this, our feature panel discussion took place where refugees from across Canada shared their stories of perseverance through the economic challenges created by the COVID19 health pandemic. Refugee also put forward these calls to actions for Canadians:
- Include refugees in the conversation. Don’t make decisions for refugees without refugees.
- Recognize that refugees are not the same as immigrants and newcomers. Our circumstances are unique and more challenging.
- Open the door to refugees. Involve us. Don’t discriminate against us because of our immigration status. Provide us with a chance to be what we want to be.
- Lots of refugees are well educated and highly skilled. Government and companies should create programs for refugees, especially claimants, that allow us to more rapidly put our skills to good use to benefit Canadian society.
- Being a refugee is just an immigration situation. It does not define who we are. We are talented people, we have drive, we are visioners, we want to build something and call this place our home. I wish Canadians can remove that label and see us for who we are.
- Bridge the employment gap by providing refugees with the opportunity to work. We cannot gain Canadian experience if we are not given the chance. It will be a win-win situation for all.
- Become a mentor. It provides so much feedback and support to help refugees figure out their new lives.
Lastly, powerful closing remarks were delivered by Rana Khan from UNHCR about the need to integrate refugees into Canada.