On October 27th and 28th, we partnered with St.Jerome’s University to host a community dialogue on refugee resettlement. Through story sharing, discussion and hands-on activities we explored the journey of settlement in Waterloo Region and got a deeper understanding of how we can move from acting as hosts to creating a home of belonging for our newest neighbours.
Over 40 people came out to join the conversation. Participants were from all backgrounds – students, social service providers, concerned community members and nearly half were people with lived experience of displacement and resettlement. The Minka* really lived up to our aim of “bringing diverse voices to the table”, embracing anti-oppressive principles of “nothing about us, without us”.
#host2home was also an incredible show of solidarity, community building and cross-cultural learning. What was most moving was hearing from Rohingya, Ethiopian, Iraqi and Colombian refugees about their personal journeys.
PhD candidate at York university, Zaitun shared:” when I came to Canada, I said I wanted to be a teacher. A settlement worker told me- think of something more realistic, but I am now doing my PhD in education. I am not studying just for myself, I am studying for all the Rohingya people, 90% of whom are illiterate, who are kept out of school by the Burmese government… when things get hard, I think of them”.
And we’ll never forget what 20 year old Ibrahim told us:
“I never wanted to leave Syria. I had my fiancé there, I was enrolled in a pre-med program, but if I stayed I would be forced to join the army, and kill my own people. I am here now, and have lost my home, my degree is not recognized, I don’t speak English. I will have to start all over. But if this is the price I have to pay not to kill another person…I will make the best of it”.
We were so inspired by the grace and maturity of the newcomer and refugee youth who joined Minka 2017 and shared from the heart. #Host2home is over, but the conversations, ideas and new connections that were formed are still stirring…we’ll keep you updated on what has emerged from the Minka in the coming months.
*Minka is a Quechua word that represents the coming together of people to work collaboratively on a common project that benefits an entire community. It is a call to action where community members work side by side towards a common goal, bringing the expertise they have from their daily lives and placing it alongside the expertise of another.
Learn more here: https://www.sju.ca/minka