World Refugee Day was established by the United Nations Refugee Agency in 2000. The 2022 World Refugee Day tagline is: “Whoever, wherever, and whenever, everyone has the right to seek safety.” Broadly, this means that it does not matter who a person is, where they are from, or what their reason for seeking asylum is: they deserve to do what they need to do, in order to live safely and freely.
Why should we celebrate WRD?
Refugee issues are everyone’s issues. At any time, anyone can experience life-threatening circumstances from which they need to flee in order to survive. Generally speaking, people can agree that protecting one’s family and keeping them safe is a basic human right, to which everyone should be entitled. To stand with refugees is to accept and embrace those who have been forced to flee unsafe situations.
World Refugee Day, and conventions like the one on the Status of Refugees are important causes because they help to educate the public at large. Myths about refugees, like other forms of stereotyping, can also make for riskier and more uncomfortable situations for people already experiencing the difficulties and struggles of fleeing their homes. By educating more people about refugees and their experiences, communities can better support people seeking asylum so that they can heal and recuperate in dignity and safety, as they deserve.
How we talk about refugees matters
We see solidarity with refugees as an intersectional issue: no person should be considered illegal, and especially not on stolen land. Canada is a colonial state which imposes itself on the territory of peoples who have been here since time immemorial. The displacement of the original peoples of Turtle Island is not unlike the displacements of other people across the globe.
In addition, responses to the Ukranian refugee crisis in 2022 have re-emphasized racist patterns in the treatment of and reporting about non-white/non-white-passing refugees globally. While comparing the suffering of different groups is an ultimately fruitless exercise, recognizing the difference in treatment of those suffering is important to note. Ukrainians fleeing from Russian invasion have received significantly more attention in world news than Syrians doing the same; and Black and Brown Ukrainian citizens, and even international students in Ukraine have reported being treated more harshly in receiving countries than their fellows.
Like with any kind of allyship, ensuring that we disrupt and dismantle stereotypes is important work to increasing the overall inclusivity of our workplaces and communities.
What is your organisation doing to support refugees?
Do you hire refugees and newcomers? Did you know that there are incentives that can go along with this important support for people fleeing their homes? When it comes to hiring equitably and inclusively, some things to keep in mind for refugee applicants and employees:
- Background checks and documentation may be difficult to acquire or provide; instead, consider providing opportunities for refugee applicants to demonstrate their skills in other ways
- Implement inclusivity training and zero tolerance policies for any kind of harassment or discrimination in your workplace
- Be open to, and potentially budget for, language interpreters and acquisition training for your refugee applicants and new employees
- Create or provide mentorship for refugee employees to create a greater sense of belonging and ease the transition into the workplace
MT Consulting can help you with all of these steps, and more, with our specialized expertise. Contact us today to book a consultation or training program!