By Abeer Yusuf
As we acknowledge and learn more about World Refugee Day, which falls on June 20, I find that we are almost inundated with reading materials, stories and news items about refugees on the day itself. Yet we hardly take a minute to think beyond the day and incorporate awareness of refugees, as well as how we can stand in solidarity and take action in more tangible ways. Keeping that in mind, we’ve compiled a short list of simple things you can incorporate and do, which showcase the plurality of how World Refugee Day can live far beyond June 20.
WATCH: Ai Weiwei’s Human Flow, a beautiful documentary about how people are displaced and hear first-hand from the various reasons why folks become stateless and refugees.
READ: We’re incredibly lucky at LEVEL to work with stellar folks, including advisory committee member John Michael Koffi. John Michael is originally from the Democractic Republic of Congo, and we encourage you to pick up his memoir, Refuge-e: The Journey Much Desired, to learn about experiences racialized refugee youth traverse through when displaced. You can read more about John Michael’s experience with LEVEL here.
SHOP: Al-Fares Halal Meats and Grocery, 717 E Broadway, Vancouver. Run by a newly immigrated Syrian family, this store has many halal meat options, and a smattering of Middle Eastern spices and goods available.
EAT: Jambo Grill Tandoor & Paan House, 3219 Kingsway, Vancouver. Visit the Jambo Grill if you’re in the mood to try great East African comfort food. Run by an Ismaili family originally from Uganda, many members of the community show up to eat good food at this space. For context, read along here and here to learn more about how Ismailis were expelled from Uganda in the 70s, when many decided to seek refuge in Canada.
LISTEN: Music is the lifeblood for many communities, and you can read about and listen to some incredible songs of resistance from Palestinians here. Should you be more inclined to watch a documentary about making cautious music while at a refugee camp, watch this haunting documentary chronicling the struggles of the Syrian people while living in Jordan.
The breadth and depth of the kinds of communities that have been stateless, displaced internally or internationally is unfortunately on the rise. While these are some tangible ways of participating in World Refugee Day, this list is small, and by no means complete. I hope that you take time today to reflect on what it means to be displaced, reflect on the numbers of people that have been separated historically and at present, from their lands and homes, and those who have to seek refuge in others’ lands. The work we do at LEVEL is informed by the lived experiences of those who go through incredible turmoil and difficulty, which begets us to sit up, notice and do something in the way we actively design our societies, our workplaces, and communities to make them truly work for everyone, specially those most marginalized and impacted by decisions of policies and laws.