Today is World Refugee Day. This year, more people are seeking refuge than ever before. Almost 90 million people have been forced from their homes by war and human rights abuses.
That number is only expected to climb. We’ll likely open our arms and hearts to a lot more people in the coming years.
The Comox Valley is starting today. This year’s World Refugee Day theme is “the right to seek safety no matter who and where you are.”
To share these values, the Comox Valley Lifelong Learning Centre (CVLLLC) and the Immigrant Welcome Centre’s Welcoming Communities Coalition (WCC) have teamed up to host story walks in public parks across the city.
The WCC helps newcomers get settled in the Comox Valley and NorthIsle. They’re also working toward a welcoming, inclusive, and supportive community where everyone thrives.
Four children’s books have been printed on posters and set up in different parks around the city. Each book tells a story of seeking refuge and settling into a new home.
The four stories are:
- Salma the Syrian Chef by Danny Ramadan,
- Stepping Stones by Margriet Ruurs and Nizar Ali Badr,
- The Name Jar by YangSook Choi, and
- Wishes by Muon Thi Van and Victo Ngai.
By raising awareness and telling moving stories, the CVLLLC and WCC hope to foster empathy and support for refugees living here on VanIsle and throughout Canada.
The stories are all about resilience. They illustrate different experiences of life through the eyes of children.
Julie Keumbehdjian is the WCC coordinator. She hopes people will read the stories and think about how different life is beyond our bubble, and how we can make more people a part of ours.
“Imagine leaving loved ones, possibly learning a new language and finding a new home. We hope these stories prompt conversations about what we as a community can do to support and welcome people no matter their circumstances.”
Many refugees are living and giving back to our community right here at home. If you’d like to learn more about their experience, Comox Valley Friends of Refugees is a great organization to start with. They help bring people to settle in Comox Valley. So you can support folks each step of the way, and maybe make a friend once they get here.
To read the stories, you can visit:
- Cottonwood Greenway
- Number 6 Mine Memorial Park
- Rotary Skypark, and
- Cousins Park.
The stories will rotate between the parks and will stay on display until July 2.