Celebrating the stories of former refugees in Canada.

Photo: © UNHCR/Antwan Chnkdji

Celebrating the stories of Canadians who were once refugees.

For many, becoming a refugee is one’s only hope to a better, safer future, and it can be a journey full of uncertainty and anxiety. Being a refugee is a temporary status, a state of existence that refugees hope to leave behind as they find a safer home.

In Canada, refugees have the highest rate of citizenship among any immigration categories, showing their commitment to Canada and its people in remarkable numbers. For these people – those who have fled conflict, persecution and violence in the hopes of a better life – they are able to say “I Was A Refugee”. These are their stories.

Read their stories

A photo of a photographer taking a portrait photo of a woman

#IWasARefugee: Peng

“Being a refugee is always part of you,” she says. “It’s a feeling of being destabilized, of feeling unwanted. You never quite feel like you belong. But I chose to belong,” she states emphatically. “I wanted to move forward.”

Des réfugiés décorent le premier sapin de Noël au Canada

#IAmAnAdvocate: Gerard

A former Congolese refugee, Gerard Mutabazi touches on his own refugee story, why it’s important to him to advocate for refugees, and how Canada can show their support for refugees.

Best Resources About the Refugee Crisis

Learn more about the refugee crisis with these resources.

Global Trends Report

Global Trends is published every year to analyze the changes in UNHCR’s populations of concern and deepen public understanding of ongoing crises. It includes important data and statistics about refugees!

Words Matter

These explainer animations help people understand the terms refugees, migration and asylum by beginning with the basics.

UNHCR Canada’s Website

UNHCR’s website is a great place to go and learn about the issues of displaced populations. You can find information about the Yemen crisis, how UNHCR helps refugee children and much, much more!

Share your story!

Leading up to the 70th anniversary of UNHCR, we want to celebrate the contributions of former refugees in Canada, and those who have helped them.

Step 1:

Share your story or that of a friend who was a refugee themselves or an advocate for refugees. Post a photo with the story on social and tag @UNHCRCanada and use the #IWasARefugee or #IAmAnAdvocate in your post.

Step 2:

Stop the rise of xenophobia and racism. Help us by raising your voice and stand with refugees by signing our petition and stand with refugees.

Step 3:

Join us by persuading your city to stand with refugees by signing the UNHCR Statement of Solidarity with refugees. #WithRefugees

Sign up here.

Step 4:

Together we are stronger.  Give now and help us in continuing our work to support refugees.

Downloadable Graphics For Your Use

Want to take part in #IWasARefugee? Download these graphics and use them to reflect your own story and journey.


  • #IWasARefugee and #IAmAnAdvocate social media templates
  • #IWasARefugee and #IAmAnAdvocate wordmarks
  • 9 Things That Wouldn’t Exist Without Refugees
  • Anatomy of A Refugee Ally
  • 3 Things You Can Do Today to Help Refugees
  • The Best Resources About the Refugee Crisis
  • 5 Canadians You May Know Who Were Refugees
  • What is the Global Refugee Crisis and How You Can Help
  • Facts About Refugees
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Wondering what to post? Brainstorm with us!

Looking for inspiration? Here are some questions to help you get your ideas flowing


  • Why did you flee your home country?
  • Tell us about your experience arriving in Canada as a refugee?
  • What do you do now and how has being a refugee impacted you?
  • There are 100 million people who remain displaced globally – how do you feel about hearing these statistics?


  • What inspired you to act and advocate for refugees?
  • What is the importance of bringing refugees issues to the forefront of the conversation, in Canada and worldwide?
  • There are 82.4 million people who remain displaced globally – how do you feel about hearing these statistics?
A photo of a photographer taking a portrait photo of a woman

Photo exhibit turns lens on LGBTQ refugees in Canada

Years before they fell in love and moved to Canada, Nouran and Miral were bonded by a common truth.

Des réfugiés décorent le premier sapin de Noël au Canada

B.C. residents help newly resettled refugees

It took five families to sponsor a refugee family, and one to give them the perfect Christmas.

Child refugee grows up to become family doctor 

40 years after her family was resettled to Edmonton, Nhung Tran-Davis is now paying it forward.

A refugee family from Syria stands in their store in Guelph

A Syrian refugee returns to entrepreneurial roots

Shortly after arriving in Canada, it didn’t take long for Ahmad Abed to reignite his entrepreneurial spirit.


Syrian seamstress becomes a part of community fabric

With the help of sponsors, Rabiaa’s skills have become a valued part of one tight-knit community.

Sky is the limit for refugee who fled Somalia

Arriving in Canada as refugee was overwhelming for Osman, but now he is determined to help others.

Canadians coast to coast are sharing their stories – see them below!

Did you know that 2020 marks UNHCR’s 70th anniversary? Help us commemorate seven decades of Canadians standing #WithRefugees.

UNHCR Canada is travelling far and wide to visit refugees who have made Canada their home over the past 70 years. We invite you to watch, read, and cook alongside fellow Canadians and refugees as we learn about their stories, families, favourite home-cooked meals, traditions, and more.

Donate Today
Please help refugee families in need.

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