The “fairy tale” story of a refugee fleeing persecution and arriving in Canada to a happy ending needs to be challenged, says Syrian refugee Mohammed Alsaleh. The reality is a lot more complicated for refugees and asylum seekers who face many new obstacles once they arrive in Canada.
Over the last two months, reporter Alia Dharssi and I have been researching Canada’s refugee response. We’ve heard from refugees and settlement workers who say newcomers are often talked about in the media but their perspectives on issues that impact them aren’t always heard. The media tends to swoop in, focus on the tragic journey before arrival and the happy ending in Canada, take information and leave.
That’s one reason The Discourse is hosting workshops over the next two weeks in Burnaby and Surrey, B.C. We’re bringing together a small group of newcomers to discuss what’s missing when the media covers refugee stories and what does it mean to speak to a journalist?
Last night we facilitated our first of four workshops that brought together a group of people from all over the world including Peru, Afghanistan, Mexico, Kyrgyzstan and Syria. Accountability, diversity and trust were three words that were brought up throughout the evening as we discussed the role of journalism.
Through this collaboration we hope to surface practical strategies so refugees feel empowered and safe to share their knowledge and journalists are able to deepen the coverage of these issues.