Refugees Welcome!

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Refugee Welcome Here trainingWith a student body highly engaged in matters of social justice and home to the largest concentration of refugee and migration scholars in North America, York students, staff, faculty and alumni work to welcome refugees into our communities, raise awareness of refugee and forced migration issues and to improve the policies surrounding them.

With these goals in mind, the Syria Response and Refugee Initiative, as well as many York student groups are participating in an Amnestie internationale, Amnesty International Canada and Canadian Council for Refugees “Refugees Welcome Here!” campaign, a sentiment and approach that will continue long after the immediate campaign is over. Both hyperlinks contain valuable resources on the campaign from each organization. You can view and take the Refugees Welcome Here! pledge at this link.

Refugees Welcome Here!

Amidst the global refugee crisis, this campaign calls for more refugees to be admitted into Canada, for greater fairness in their treatment and for our communities to better welcome them. It seeks to combat myths about refugees and emphasize their contributions. We see these contributions daily on the York campus through initiatives such as our campus WUSC committees and in our communities.

These efforts have included a March 2016 Refugee Advocacy Week and Refugees Welcome Here! Advocacy Training, (pictured above) and are growing in the build up to Refugee Rights Day (April 4th) and Month (April) in Canada, which are followed by World Refugee Day on June 20th .

Reflective of the strength of York’s efforts, YU Syria Response and Refugee Initiative Project Lead John Carlaw was invited by Amnesty International Canada to be listed as a “Canadian Refugee Champion”  , while this project is encouraging members of the York and wider community to take the Refugees Welcome Here Pledge! . They are also encouraged to share their stories of why they or their colleagues and friends are refugee champions!

Refugee Rights Day and Month 2016 on Campus

Please check our events page as well as that of the Centre for Refugee Studies to regularly to view updates on campus and initiative-related events taking place.

This initiative, students and student groups have been mobilizing around Refugee Rights Month (April) as a whole. Student groups involved in planning include Amnesty International at York, the Centre for Refugee Studies Student Caucus, RefugeAid, UNICEF/MSF at York, and WUSC Keele Campus Committee. These groups have been meeting regularly to plan their participation in the month’s activities.

Some events have included the following:

1) Monday April 4th, 2016 12:00-2pm Refugee Rights Day panel at York organized by McLaughlin College and the School of Public Policy and Administration. It included prominent experts in this field and York student participation!

2) This initiative, students and allies organizing for the month will also promote photography of York community members with welcoming messages and pledges concerning refugees and refugee rights. Examples are available on our project Instagram page . If you, your class, or campus group would like to join in on this project please let us know!

3) Refugee Rights Day and Month Activities and awareness promoted through regular tabling in Vari Hall.

2016 Toronto Refugee Rights Month Coalition- Working with the Community

Within Toronto, the York University Syria Response and Refugee Initiative, the Centre for Refugee Studies and Osgoode Hall Law School are members of the 2016 Refugee Rights Month Coalition, part of a group organizing and highlighting a month-long series of events in the city. At the coalition’s request the City of Toronto has agreed to recognize April as Refugee Rights Awareness Month. The group has issued a press release encouraging Canadians to commemorate Refugee Rights Month 2016 .

A featured event of this month will be York community participation in an Amnesty International Walk for Refugees on Saturday, April 30, 2016 as well as a Refugee Rights Day panel in the evening on April 4th– visit downtown after the events at York!

Further Actions

For those looking for more they can do, please explore this website to learn about some of the York community’s responses and many ways you can get involved. These include participation in the YU Syria Response and Refugee Initiative, refugee sponsorship and a list of student groups active in this field.

Further resources and suggestions available include a global refugee crisis – key issues and suggested responses page compiled by former CRS Acting Director Christina Clark-Kazak .

The Canadian Council for Refugees also has suggested Refugee Rights Day related activities and many other suggested actions . They also have regular meetings and consultations  at least once per year in Toronto each February. While these are by no means the only things one could do, they provide many meaningful suggestions.

We are starting to organize our activities for 2016! If you would like to become involved, please contact us at refugees@yorku.ca .