As the child of former refugees, Canadian entrepreneur Yanal Dhailieh knew he had to help when he saw how the deadly Beirut explosion was affecting refugees and the host community in Lebanon.
The 30-year-old founder and CEO of Toronto-based Peace Collective explains why his global apparel brand started a collection to support the people of Beirut through UNHCR Canada, and why it’s so important for him to say “#IAmAnAdvocate” for refugees.
Tell us about Peace Collective and their collection to support UNHCR Canada and the people of Lebanon.
At Peace Collective, our goal is to help people look good while giving back to the causes and communities that they are passionate about. We’ve set a goal for ourselves to raise $1 million to support causes that our community is passionate about by the year 2030.
With every Peace Collection launch, our aim is to give back to a different cause that we are passionate about. For our fall-winter collection, we have partnered with UNHCR Canada raise funds for their relief efforts in Lebanon. This project aims to provide shelter kits to secure and repair the homes of those affected by the explosion. The collection is available now on our website.
What inspired you to act and advocate for refugees?
I am inspired to act and advocate for refugees because it was something that was taught from a young age. My mother is originally from Syria, and my father is from Palestine.
My parents were living in Kuwait during the Gulf War in 1990. My mother was four months pregnant with me when they were forced to flee. They originally fled to Syria and then were given an opportunity to come to Canada and start a new life. A lot of our extended family have gone through similar experiences all throughout the Middle East. While I was lucky enough to be born in Canada, I know that it is my duty to do all that I can to help.
For the past seven decades, UNHCR has been helping and supporting refugees and other displaced people. But in 2020, more than 79.5 million people will remain displaced around the world. As a refugee advocate, what support, community and help do you think is integral for those who are resettling in Canada?
When I hear statistics about the scale of the refugee crisis, it makes me really sad and further reinforces that it’s our duty as Canadians to help out in any way that we can.
Refugees have to struggle with feelings of isolation that come from being forced to relocate to a new country. They have to cope with the trauma all while trying to restart their lives in a foreign country. It is not an easy task and requires an incredible amount of support and resources. Even small gestures of friendship can mean a great deal.
It is important for families arriving to be welcomed into the community. Resources such as permanent housing, schools, and personal finance help, as well as making sure that the families get acquainted in the city where they have settled, are all important. Making sure that they are set up to understand how things such as public transportation and health care work is paramount.
Add your name to the #IAmAnAdvocate pledge and join the UNHCR in sending send a clear message: everyone counts, and there is no place for xenophobia and racism in our world.