A group of local agencies – including the Greater Victoria Public Library – are gathering to celebrate World Refugee Day on Saturday, June 20.
Established by the United Nations General Assembly with the aim to raise awareness about the situation of refugees and internally displaced persons globally, a small group of local citizens approached several community organizations in 2013. Those organizations included The Victoria Coalition for Survivors of Torture, the GVPL, the University of Victoria World University Service of Canada, the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society and the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria to celebrate World Refugee Day with three public panel events.
These celebrations highlighted stories of resilience and triumph shared by refugees living in our community.
This year, the legacy of World Refugee Day celebrations continues under the theme “Building Community, Breaking Down Barriers.” The events are an opportunity to highlight actions everyone can take to make Greater Victoria more inclusive and to challenge negative stereotypes about refugee, says Furaha Sikitoka, organizing committee member and former refugee.
“Don’t see me as someone ‘from there’— see me as someone who is here,” Sikotoka said. “What matters is the community we build, instead of the different places we are from.”
On Saturday from noon to 3 p.m., the courtyard of the Central Branch (735 Broughton St.) will include arts-based activities, a kid’s zone, food, live music and more.
In addition to the WRD Celebration, a panel discussion called “Pathways to Citizenship for Refugees” will be moderated by Gregor Craigie of CBC’s On the Island on Thursday, June 18 at 7 p.m. in the Community Meeting Room. And, on Friday at 12:15 p.m., representatives will be at Victoria City Hall for the raising of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) flag and the City’s proclamation of June 20 as World Refugee Day in Victoria.
To learn more, follow @victoriawrd on Twitter or search the hashtag #RefugeeDayyyj.