World Refugee Day Events in Canada

​Canadians will celebrate World Refugee Day across the country. On June 20, 2021, take part in one of the World Refugee Day events listed below!

Photo: © UNHCR/Andrew McConnell

How will you celebrate World Refugee Day?

Join us at one of the following World Refugee Day events, or contact us to add your event to our calendar!

Nationwide

Virtual

Event
Book Launch: Deadly Voyages: Migrant Journeys across the Globe

Date and time
June 7, 2021, 11:00 am ET

Description
Join us on Monday, June 7, 2021, for a discussion with contributing authors of Deadly Voyages: Migrant Journeys across the Globe and members of the WUSC Student Refugee Program network. Together, we will discuss the role of refugee narratives in transforming public attitudes, policies, and practices toward more compassionate solutions to forced migration.

Find more information about this event on World University Service of Canada’s website and register here


British Columbia

Virtual

Event
Looking for Home: MAP BC/BCNPHA Roundtable around Housing Refugee Claimants

Date and time
June 15, 2021, 1:00 pm PT

Description
Refugee claimants flee to Canada seeking protection from persecution, discrimination, and violence. Once here, they realize their journey has just started. One of their most significant challenges is just finding a place to live. It is a sad reality that many refugee claimants’ early experiences of Canada are on the street or in one of our shelters. Displaced and going through culture shock, they are ill-equipped to cope with what they see there, and this reinforces their previous trauma. With no Canadian rental or credit history and without a steady income, renting in the market is close to impossible. Landlords are reluctant to rent to refugees and non-profit housing is often their only choice.

Multi-Agency Partnership BC (MAP BC) – a network of agencies supporting refugee claimants – and the BC Non-profit Housing Association (BCNPHA) are sponsoring a dialogue to address this problem.

On Tuesday June 15, as part of World Refugee Day 2021 events, a roundtable discussion between housing providers, settlement workers and refugee claimants will be held. This discussion will highlight a typical journey for refugee claimants and what housing providers need to know to give them a chance for a real home. The conversation will be led by Jackson Freedman, BCNPHA Policy Analyst, and Doug Peat, Journey Home Community: Housing & Donor Engagement and co-chair of MAP BC’s Housing Working Group. All housing providers and those supporting refugee claimants in their housing journey are welcome to register. We welcome refugee claimants’ past and present to join the conversation.

Note: Registration limited to refugees, housing providers and housing settlement workers

Find more information about this event and register on the Multi-Agency Partnership BC’s website


Virtual

Event
The Power of Stories: A Conversation on Refugees and Literature

Date and time
June 17, 2021, 7:00 pm PT

Description
Recent books by and about refugees have touched readers across Canada and won top literary accolades. As a country with a rich history of providing asylum to people from various parts of the globe, these stories illuminate our understanding of who we are, and increase our empathy for the lives and histories of our neighbours. To mark World Refugee Day, join us for a conversation with three writers who have helped shape our public conversations with the power of their stories. 

Kim Thúy was born in 1968 in Vietnam, but fled with her family with the boat people at the age of ten, eventually settling in Quebec. Her first novel, Ru, won Canada Reads in 2015. She is a Member of the Order of Canada and a Chevalier of the Ordre national du Québec. 

Samra Habib was born in Pakistan, but fled with her family to Canada at the age of ten after facing religious persecution. She is a writer, photographer, and activist, whose writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Advocate. Her first book, We Have Always Been Here, won Canada Reads in 2020.

Kamal Al-Solaylee is a professor of journalism and literary non-fiction at Ryerson University in Toronto. His nationally bestselling memoir Intolerable won the 2013 Toronto Book Award and was a finalist for the CBC’s Canada Reads, as well as the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction. His second book, Brown, was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction as well as the Trillium Book Award. He is also a two-time finalist for the National Magazine Awards.  

This event is presented in partnership with Multi-Agency Partnership BC (MAP BC), and will kick-off their World Refugee Day Celebrations 2021 series of events. This event will start with a Proclamation of World Refugee Day by Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart.

Find more information about this event and register on the Vancouver Public Library’s website


Virtual

Event
Stories Told and Objects Not Forgotten: An Afternoon of Storytelling

Date and time
June 18, 2021, from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm PT

Description
As we celebrate World Refugee Day 2021, Multi-Agency Partnership BC (MAP BC) is proud to provide a platform to inspirational refugee speakers to share their stories. Be mesmerized by three wonderful individuals who share their journeys of migration and resilience at our event for World Refugee Day. Three participants, Manuel, Maya and Zong May will weave their memories of something from their treasured past that has made a significant difference to their lives today. Their stories will demonstrate their success, disappointments, persistence and hard work, and those of their families. The magic of storytelling will leave you captivated and yearning to hear more about their journeys to Canada and what they left behind.

Manuel Gamas was born in Guatemala City along with his two older brothers. He came to Canada with his mom and his brothers as refugee claimants in 2000 when he was just 11 years old. Since then, he has long considered Vancouver his second home. Manuel eventually pursued his calling by becoming a youth worker and loves to share his stories with the community. He has many colourful stories and looks forward to sharing his own migration journey on June 18th.

Mahbubeh-Maya Mojtahed was a political prisoner in Iran where she was arrested along with her husband when she was 7 months pregnant. Her son was born and raised in prison for almost two years. She arrived in Canada along with her son as a refugee in the summer of 1992 where she has become an active member of the Iranian art community and an event programmer in Vancouver. She is going to bring her life story to the stage of the Fringe Festival after the pandemic.

Zong May was born in Myanmar and came to Canada in January 2012 after living in Malaysia for five years. She was 28 years old at the time and was accompanied by her family. When she flew to Canada, it was the first time she had ever been on an airplane. She recalls being dizzy and hungry as the food on the plane was completely unknown to her! After landing in Winnipeg, Zong May and her family relocated to Vancouver. The object she recalls and longs for is the loom and the traditional weaving she would do back in her home country. She will share how the loom as an object, represents her yearning to connect her children to the traditional practices of Myanmar and how she stays connected to her homeland as a refugee.

The storytellers will be interviewed by their friends or co-workers, Thanh Lam and Richard Belcham.

Thanh Lam (she/they) lives on the unceded Coast Salish Territories and recognizes her position as an uninvited settler on these lands. Driven by her family’s lived experiences of war, torture, and forced migration as South Vietnamese refugees to Turtle Island/Canada, she has a lifelong commitment for refugee rights within a decolonization lens. In the past, Thanh has organized alongside undocumented migrant workers and past projects have included the creation of free, community ELL classes for undocumented residents. Thanh was also the Co-Chair of the Cultural Communities Advisory Committee with the City of Vancouver whose 2015-2017 term project was researching effective engagement strategies for underrepresented ethno-cultural groups. Currently, Thanh is pursuing a Master’s degree in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies at the Refugee Law Centre, University of London, UK.

Richard Belcham is Executive Director of Inasmuch Community Society in Abbotsford and Co-Chair of MAP BC. Inasmuch provides transition housing, settlement services and customized employment support for refugee claimants in the Fraser Valley. He is a passionate advocate for refugee claimants and loves to remove barriers to service access, giving them the very best start to their new lives in Canada. He has an extensive background in HR, corporate communications and marketing. Originally from the UK, Richard immigrated to Canada in 2011 and has been a resident of the Fraser Valley ever since. Richard is also host of the Along the Way podcast featuring refugee stories.

You will play an important part to recreate the real feeling of being in a live storytelling event setting by connecting with the audience and sharing questions at the end.

Find more information about this event and register on the Multi-Agency Partnership BC’s website


Virtual

Event
World Refugee Day Writing Workshop

Date and time
June 19, 2021, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm PT

Description
No matter where we were born or where we end up, we have this in common: we were all children once. It is during childhood, when we are most open to the world, that we experience life at its fullest. Consequently, our memories from that time become the stories we carry with us all our lives. If you enjoy writing and would like to visit that childhood place again, please join us in this 3-hour writing workshop. Through a series of guided exercises designed to invoke the vivid sensory details and strong feelings of childhood, we will craft stories that celebrate your unique experience of this universal stage of life. Suitable for storytellers with an Upper Intermediate to Advanced English proficiency.

Caroline Adderson is the author of five novels, two collections of short stories, as well as many books for young readers. Her work has received numerous national and international awards and nominations. She is the Program Director of the Writing Studio at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and the Vancouver mentor for the Shoe Project.

Shanga Karim was a journalist and women’s activist in Kurdistan, and her writing focused on violence against women, honor killing, and female genital mutilation. She holds a BA in Media Studies. After coming to Canada in 2015, She is continuing writing that one of her stories has been selected to be published by The Vancouver Writers Fest. She is currently participating in a global writing project titled, Geographies of the Heart: Life-Writing from Newcomers to Canada, that is expected to be published in the fall of 2021. Shanga is studying English at UFV to continue her education, and she is a Vancouver local coordinator for the Shoe project.

Note: Registration limited to 12 participants

Find more information about this event and register on the Multi-Agency Partnership BC’s website


Virtual

Event
World Premiere of After Arrival

Date and time
June 19, 2021, 7:00 pm PT

Description
World premiere of the film After Arrival, a documentary exploring the experiences of three LGBTQIA+ community leaders who arrived in Canada as refugee claimants. Multi-Agency Partnership BC (MAP BC) is proud to present the film, which was directed by Gergely Toth and produced by Alexandra Dawley in partnership with MOSAIC and the Victoria Coalition for Survivors of Torture (VCST). Following the virtual film screening, we look forward to an interactive virtual discussion moderated by Alexandra Dawley (MOSAIC) with the incredible people featured in the film: Kristi Pinderi, Dennis Juarez and Norma Lize.

Find more information about this event and register on the Multi-Agency Partnership BC’s website


Virtual

Event
United: An Afternoon of Music and Poetry for World Refugee Day 2021

Date and time
June 20, 2021, from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm PT

Description
As a celebration of all the art and ideas, culture and beauty that refugees bring to our communities, Multi-Agency Partnership BC (MAP BC) invites you to attend a live concert of music and poetry on Sunday June 20 – World Refugee Day! This traditional MAP World Refugee Day event brings culture from the four corners of the globe to remind us how refugees enhance our communities by sharing what is intrinsically theirs. This year, we welcome again two contributors originally from Syria who now call BC “home.”

Rawan Moon is a Syrian refugee. “I have been in Canada for three years and six months. Back in Syria, I worked as a biologist in a pharmaceutical company, then as a high school teacher. Now, I have a passion for helping refugees like me resettle to Canada. I dedicated my time to be a volunteer with a community centre that works with refugees. Then I got an opportunity to be a part of the VAST team (Vancouver Association for Survivors of Torture) as an Arabic interpreter and intake support worker and I am also now a group Facilitator at VAST, and an interpreter at MOSAIC. Poetry is one of my favorite hobbies and I continue to practice it in Canada.”

Sari Alesh is an internationally recognized violinist. Sari was classically trained in Damascus and before the war broke out in Syria he toured Europe and the Middle East with the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra. Since arriving in Canada in February of 2016, Sari has been focusing on playing music again, continually improving his English and rebuilding his life in his new country.

Originally from Malawi, Tamanya-Waka is an international reggae artist, based in British Columbia with over 15 years experience in composing, writing, arranging, recording and performing in the music industry. She arrived on the international scene in 2014 with her song Soldier, which is available widely. Her passion continues as she preaches the word of love, unity and sensitization about abuse.

Afshin Passikhani is a poetry enthusiast originally from Iran who moved to Canada three years ago. In the last three years of his life in Iran before moving to Canada, he used to work for an NGO. He is still involved in environmentally-friendly activities through social media and virtual networking, and volunteers with organizations such as South Vancouver Neighbourhood House, Vancouver School Board, and MOSAIC. He enjoys writing poetry as well as reading it aloud.

Hassan Al Kontar was raised in a prosperous Syrian home, the middle child of a mechanical engineer and a nurse. He is known as the “man at the airport” after spending seven months at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Now a permanent resident of Canada based in Vancouver, Hassan is employed by the Canadian Red Cross and continues to advocate for refugees around the world. He is the author of the newly released book, Man@the_airport.

Our host is Saleem Spindari, who has a passion for social justice and strives to support those in need. As a former refugee himself, Saleem has been active in advocating for refugees, immigrants, migrant workers and other marginalized groups. He is Senior Manager of Refugee and Migrant Workers Programs at MOSAIC and the recipient of the Service Recognition Staff Award from AMSSA.

Find more information about this event and register on the Multi-Agency Partnership BC’s website


Virtual

Event
#Dreamball Competition

Date and time
Until June 19, 2021

Description
Submit your designs by June 19! Our local #Dreamball design contest is an opportunity for your kids to showcase their artwork and support the community! Spend some time with your family and friends and create your own #Dreamball!

How does it work?

  • Open to kids/teens between 10 and 16 years old.
  • You can draw by hand or on a computer or tablet. If you draw by hand, please scan or take a good quality picture of your drawing. We accept drawings in PDF, JPEG and PNG formats.
  • Use the ball design template linked below and draw within the two frames. If you cannot print or use the template, draw the pentagon and hexagon shapes by hand.
  • Try to use a maximum of 3 different colours including white.
  • Feel free to draw more abstract designs.
  • Submit your creation by June 19!

Submission and prize

  • Submit your design to us via kaye@heremagazine.ca.
  • Designs will be featured on our website for public voting. Voting details to follow.
  • We will choose 3 winners for $50 gift cards that can be used for any program offered by the District of Saanich.
  • Winners will be announced in July 2021.
  • You can also submit your design to UNHCR’s international contest. The five best art designs will be turned into footballs stitched by refugees and host community members in Kenya. The winning balls will be sold online to support sporting opportunities for refugees. More details in the link below.

Click here to access the #Dreamball design template and find more information about the #Dreamball design contest on UNHCR’s international website


Virtual

Event
Pathways to Post-Secondary Education for Refugees: A session by Aboubakar Idriss

Date and time
June 18, 2021, 10:00 am PT

Description
Moving to a new country is never easy, especially when a person leaves most of their personal belongings and the life they knew behind. Making a new home in a country where the language is different, the culture unfamiliar, and with little knowledge of how to access the path to higher education can be daunting. As we celebrate World Refugee Day 2021 under the UNHCR theme of “Together we heal, learn and shine,” join us on June 18, 2021, at 10:00 am PT as Aboubakar Idriss has a one-on-one talk with Steven Baileys from the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria on the work that he does in helping refugee students get scholarships all over the world from Canada. Learn about how he harnessed the power of “information sharing” to change and inspire the lives of many students and refugees.

Aboubakar Idriss is an education activist and a social media influencer on YouTube and other platforms. He is a Lecturer at Sprott Shaw College, Victoria campus, and is active on social media, providing students and refugees from around the world with information on education, scholarships and self-development. Aboubakar has produced over 400 videos covering education in over 70 different countries from around the world. Aboubakar’s social media portfolio includes over 1 million followers from around the world. He was featured on CBC, CHEK TV, Shaw TV, Al Jazeera, and many other media outlets. Aboubakar has worked closely with YouTube, ONE.org and the Thomson Reuters Foundation to fight poverty through education.

Find more information about this event and register on Eventbrite


Virtual

Event
Flag Raising Ceremony for the City of Victoria and Municipality of Saanich

Date and time
June 18, 2021, 11:00 am PT

Description
Join us online for the flag raisings and mayoral proclamations of World Refugee Day by District of Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes and City of Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. The District of Saanich will be live streaming the event on Friday, June 18, 2021, at 11 am PT via their Facebook page. We will be sharing the City of Victoria’s video of the event on Sunday, June 20, 2021, at 12 pm PT.


Event
Flash Mob in the City of Victoria

Date and time
June 18, 2021, 11:00 am PT

Description
Friends, let us once again get together to honour and celebrate refugees around the world with a dance! We will be doing a flash mob at 1 pm PT at Centennial Square, and at 3 pm PT at Uptown by Starbucks. Bring your family and friends (and masks)!


Virtual

Event
World Refugee Day A celebration of Refugee Successes

Date and time
June 20, 2021, from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm PT

Description
The BC Refugee Hub, in partnership with Islam Unravelled, will be hosting a World Refugee Day event titled: “A Celebration of Refugee Success Stories.”

Every minute, 20 people leave everything behind to escape war, persecution or terror. Today there are nearly 80 million forcibly displaced people in the word nearly 27 million of whom are refugees. Every year, Canada resettles approximately 30,000 refugees giving them safety, opportunity, and welcome.

The purpose of this forum is to highlight what refugees bring to Canada, showcasing their accomplishments, contributions, and beautiful addition to Canadian communities.

Speakers:

  • Amy Cheng, S.U.C.C.E.S.S. 
  • Azim Dahya, Muslim Food Bank and Community Services/ASPIRE
  • Chris Friesen, Immigrant Services Society of BC
  • Elise Herzig, Jewish Immigrant Aid Services
  • Hiba Alodat, Youth Leader
  • Dr. Jennifer M. Hyndman
  • Mufti Aasim Rashid, Al-Ihsan Educational Foundation 
  • Naima Ali, Educator
  • Rhiannon Bennett, Hummingbirds Rising and Musqueam First Nation
  • Saleem Spindari, MOSAIC
  • Sharmarke Dubow, Victoria City Councillor
  • Shawkat Hasan, BC Muslim Association

Find more information about this event and register on Eventbrite

Manitoba

Virtual

Event
World Refugee Day 2021

Date and time
June 18, 2021, from 10:00 am to 11:30 am CDT

Description
Together with our member agencies and partners, the Manitoba Association of Newcomer Serving Organizations (MANSO) will come together to mark World Refugee Day in Manitoba on June 18, 2021! As we commemorate World Refugee Day together, we also want to reflect on our shared global responsibility to respond to the devastating forced displacement crisis around the world. Especially at this time when we are under the strain of a worldwide pandemic, let’s not forget the plight of those for whom this situation adds another level of suffering and struggle. The event will include the opportunity to learn more about Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program and to hear more real-life stories told from both the refugee and sponsor sides.

🎤 Guest speaker – Dr. Shauna Labman
🇨🇦 UNHCR Senior Resettlement Officer, Michael Casasola
🎬 Real-life stories told from both the refugee and sponsor sides
🎼 Special performance

We welcome our members and partners to register for the event and participate in the event.

Find more information about this event and register on MANSO’s website


Ontario

Virtual

Event
13th Annual Life as a Refugee 2021 Virtual Community Event: Moving Forward Through Adversity

Date and time
June 18, 2021, from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm

Description
The London Cross Cultural Learner Centre and our community partners are honouring World Refugee Day with this virtual event, showcasing the continual perseverance, triumphs, and contributions refugees make in our community.

Tareq Hadhad, Founder and CEO of Peace by Chocolate, will headline the event as our keynote speaker with his powerful message. Panelists with lived refugee experiences will share their stories of resiliency and resettlement, while the Engaged Refugee and Community Champion Awards will highlight outstanding refugees and refugee advocates.

Registration by June 15, 2021: https://bit.ly/3wgto8G

Find more information about this event on the London Cross Cultural Learner Centre’s website


Virtual

Event
World Refugee Day 2021: An Afternoon with the “Man@the_airport”

Date and time
June 20, 2021, from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm ET

Description
Every minute, 20 individuals are forced to leave their lives behind to escape war, terror and persecution. On Sunday, June 20, the Anglican United Refugee Alliance (AURA) invites you to commemorate the strength and courage of refugees around the world.

We will be joined by Hassan Al Kontar, also known as the “Man@the_airport.” After being deported from the United Arab Emirates to Malaysia in 2017, Hassan refused to return to Syria and face military service. He ended up stuck inside the Kuala Lumpur Airport. Hassan was able to share his story with the world through social media, and finally received refuge in Canada. He is now a permanent resident, an advocate for refugees, and author of his first published book.

Hassan will be reading a passage from his book and holding an interactive Q&A with the audience. The link to the online event will be sent to all registered ticket holders on Friday the 18th and a reminder link will be sent an hour before the event starts on the 20th. By buying a virtual event ticket, you are commemorating World Refugee Day and ensuring AURA will be able to continue providing support and expertise to groups involved in refugee sponsorship and resettlement.

Find more information about this event on the Anglican United Refugee Alliance’s website


Québec

Virtual

Event
World Refugee Week 2021

Date and time
From June 14, 2021 to June 20, 2021

Description
June 20 is World Refugee Day! To celebrate this year, the Refugee Centre is hosting an exciting week of discussions with experts in the field related to the UNHCR’s 2021 theme: Together we heal, learn and shine! ✨

Join us from June 14 to 20 for a week’s worth of interesting and engaging conversations around the experiences of refugees, including the following guests:

  • Maira Prado from Action Sport Physio – Santé et mieux-être will discuss asylum seeking and healthcare access on June 15, 2021 at 7:00 pm ET
  • Said Fenaoui from Le Collectif will discuss employability obstacles immigrants face in Québec on June 17, 2021 at 7:00 pm ET
  • Nada Shanti will discuss challenges refugees and asylum-seekers face in refugee camps on June 17, 2021 at 7:00 pm ET
  • Dr. Chirgwin, Lyna Siafa, and Arthega Selvarajan (CIME) will discuss discrepancies in the Québec healthcare system for refugees and asylum-seekers on June 19, 2021 at 7:00 pm ET
  • Rema Jamous Imseis, UNHCR’s Representative in Canada, will discuss UNHCR’s 2021 World Refugee Day theme on June 20, 2021 at 7:00 pm ET

Find more information about these events on the Refugee Centre’s Facebook page


Saskatchewan

Event
World Refugee Day 2021: Celebrate their stories, learn about their journey

Date and time
June 20, 2021, from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm CST

Description
On June 20, the world commemorates the strength, courage, and resilience of millions of refugees. We want to celebrate this day by sharing the stories of refugees in our community. We also want to take this opportunity to share information about the refugee crisis from a global, national, and local perspective.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we cannot gather for an in-person event. Instead, we will display these stories and information on the walking path on the west side of Wascana Lake, by Albert Memorial Bridge. From 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, visit our displays to learn about the refugee crisis, discover stories of refugees in our community, and reflect on how you can get involved.

Find more information on the Regina Open Door Society’s website


Event
Silent Vigil

Date and time
June 18, 2021, 12:00 pm CST

Description
We will be honouring and remembering the over 80 million displaced people in the world with a silent vigil at Civic Square in Saskatoon. Groups will have the option to disperse to River Landing or Peace Tower. Members of the public are encouraged to bring posters/placards in support of refugees. Please follow all local public health guidelines.

Find more information about this event on the Saskatoon Refugee Coalition’s Facebook page


Virtual

Event
Honouring Refugees Around the World – Virtual Event

Date and time
June 20, 2021, from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm CST

Description
Learn about the history of the Karen people in Myanmar and Thailand from local Karen community members Bwe Doh Soe and Kam Wee. Saba Keleta from the local Eritrean community will be speaking about the history of the Eritrean people and their refugee situation in Ethiopian refugee camps.

Find more information about this event on the Saskatoon Refugee Coalition’s Facebook page

We stand together #WithRefugees. Please stand with us.

Over 79 million people are displaced worldwide. Each day thousands more flee their homes.

On June 20, the world commemorates the strength, courage, and resilience of millions of refugees.

The UN Refugee Agency protects and assists refugees, forcibly displaced and stateless people.

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