The Diversitas forum continues hosting discussions on difficult subjects. Last week's gathering tackled refugees, immigrants, and the impact on Canada.
Peter Cantelon, the creator of Diversitas, had seen a number of misconceptions about refugees and immigrants posted on social media. Wanting to challenge these misconceptions and provide the correct information, Cantelon invited a number of speakers who were heavily involved in the subject.
"It's the hardest thing for people to do, but I want people to feel equipped to challenge misconceptions. Whether it's in their own family circles, within themselves, in the workspace, in the public sphere, or on social media."
Speakers of the event were Dorota Blumczynska, Executive Director, Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM); Abdikheir Ahmed, Director, Immigration Partnership Winnipeg (IPW); Dr. Shauna Labman, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba, and Yahya Samatar.
Samatar is a Somali man who fled for his life from his home country. He swam across the Red River from North Dakota to Manitoba.
One of the misconceptions addressed was what makes a refugee a refugee.
Ahmed explained that anyone can be a refugee, the only difference between refugees is the kind of conflict that forces them away from their friends, family, and country.
The group gave a very informative presentation, correcting misconceptions, sharing history, politics around refugee claims and asylum seekers, as well as answering any questions people had on the subject.
Samatar closed the evening sharing his experience as a refugee and his new life in Canada as a Fundraising Consultant and Volunteer Speaker at events such as Diversitas.
Blumczynska said though some weren't informed on everything it was inspiring to see people come to the event, actively looking to become informed on the subject.
"It's very clear that this community is already incredibly welcoming, has taken the time to educate itself, and cares about the issue. I'm very inspired."