World Refugee Day was recognized internationally on June 20, 2021. Designated by the United Nations to honour refugees around the globe, it “celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution. World Refugee Day is an occasion to build empathy and understanding for their plight and to recognize their resilience in rebuilding their lives.”
As British Columbia still navigates the complexities of gatherings, social distancing, and restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Refugee Day Victoria Committee planned and hosted a series of unique events to highlight the day.
#Dreamball Design Competition
A local edition of UNHCR’s #dreamball contest was coordinated to engage children between the ages of ten and sixteen years old to use their creativity to come up with a design that captured this year’s World Refugee Day themes. The winner—eleven year-old Sam S. from Victoria—had his design digitally rendered on a soccer ball and was awarded a gift certificate from the District of Saanich.
Pathways to Higher Education for Refugees
A webinar session titled “Pathways to Higher Education for Refugees” was hosted by Aboubakar Idriss. Idriss is a popular education activist and social media influencer. A lecturer at Sprott Shaw College, Idriss connects with and serves refugees all over the world, harnessing the power of “information sharing” to change and inspire the lives of many students and refugees.
Flag Raising Ceremonies in the City of Victoria and District of Saanich
The United Nations’ flag was raised by the Acting Mayor of the City of Victoria, Stephen Andrew, and Saanich Mayor, Fred Haynes. The ceremonies were live streamed on June 18, 2021 and shared on social media platforms for public viewing.
Flash mobs incorporating Zumba choreography were organised at two locations: Centennial Square in Victoria and Uptown shopping mall in Saanich.
The World Refugee Day Victoria Committee is comprised of many volunteer individuals and community groups, including: Le Relais Francophone, BC Francophone Immigration Program, Greater Victoria Public Library, Here In Canada, Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society, Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria, City of Victoria, and the District of Saanich.