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Powerful stories reveal refugee experiences in Manitoba

News release details

Hazim Ismail fled persecution in Malaysia for being an atheist and gay. Maysoun Darweesh was a journalist and human rights activist in Syria before being targeted by the government – her husband imprisoned and tortured. Settlement worker Badri Abdilahi, originally from Somalia, draws upon the experiences he had as a newcomer to support his clients in Winnipeg.

Refugees to Manitoba and community members who work with them will share their unique and powerful stories in a free event at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR), organized by Passages Canada.

This panel discussion will be moderated by social work professor Dr. Régine King of the University of Manitoba. Short videos from Passages Canada's digital archive highlighting refugee stories will also be screened. Participant bios are attached.

What: Refugee experiences in Manitoba: Stories of hope and survival
Panel discussion and video screening

When: Wednesday October 26, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: MTS Classrooms, CMHR 85 Israel Asper Way, Winnipeg

Please enter through the Group Entrance.

Passages Canadais a national storytelling program of Historica Canada that invites newcomers and established Canadians to share their personal experiences of identity, heritage, and immigration with groups of all ages. Passages Canada is generously funded by TD Bank Group and the Government of Canada. Historica Canada is the country's largest organization dedicated to enhancing awareness of Canada's history and citizenship.

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is the first museum in the world solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights. It is the first national museum in Canada to be built outside the National Capital Region. Using multimedia technology and other innovative approaches, the Museum creates inspiring encounters with human rights appropriate for all ages, in a visitor experience unlike any other.

For more information, please contact:
Lee-Anne Lavell
Program Coordinator
416–506-1867, ext. 264
llavell@historicacanada.ca

Andrea Hall
Communications Coordinator
416–506-1867, ext. 261
ahall@historicacanada.ca

About the participants 

Badri Abdilahi is originally from Somalia. During the last six years, he has worked with the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council (Welcome Place) as a settlement counsellor. Specifically, he works with the Syrian refugees who began arriving in Manitoba in November 2015. He is a passionate advocate for refugees in Winnipeg to address their basic settlement needs. Abdilahi also volunteers at Stronger Together Manitoba during his spare time and teaches Canadian citizenship test preparation for Somali newcomers. 

Maysoun Darweesh was born, raised and received her post-secondary education in Syria (Bachelor of Journalism). Darweesh was a journalist in Syria until she fled the country. She now works with Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council (Welcome Place) as a host-matching specialist. Her job is to recruit Canadian families and match them with government-sponsored refugee families to establish friendships. She also works to bring refugees out from the "isolation bubble" to understand Canadian culture and values in an effort to integrate them. She also volunteers with Mennonite Central Committee and the Kurdish Association of Manitoba, where she assists refugees and local communities.

Hazim Ismail is a gay Javanese Malay, Chinese refugee, brother, spoken word artist and activist from Malaysia. He is currently a Psychology major at the University of Winnipeg. Through No One Is Illegal-Winnipeg Treaty One Territory, he organizes mainly around migrant justice, with emphasis on bridging Indigenous and migrant communities through spotlighting commonalities in experiences with colonization, imperialism, and exploitation as well dissecting immigration systems and experiences for refugees, international students, temporary foreign workers, and permanent residents. Ismail also organizes with 13 Fires, an anti-racism conversation series, and co-founded International Queers, an LGBTTQ* safe space initiative for international students. He currently serves as the LGBTTQ* Commissioner for the Canadian Federation of Students and with the University of Winnipeg Students Association Board of Directors, as well as a facilitator for the Canadian Roots Exchange-Youth Reconciliation Initiative.

Régine King is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Social Work, University of Manitoba. Her research interests include psychosocial processes in post-conflict settings, women's rights, and cross-cultural mental health. Her focus has been on survivors of organized violence who resettle in their communities or in other countries as refugees and immigrants. Dr. King is also interested in indigenous knowledges and methodologies, truth and reconciliation commissions, and transnational social work. She is committed to social justice, human rights, and healthy communities.