Solidarity with Refugees in Sudbury
by Norbert Piché

February 7, 2019 — Refugee issues touch all of us. It is not just for people in the big cities like Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver.  It is not just for people who live near the border and who see migrants arriving in our country. It also touches people as far away as Sudbury.

From January 28th to the 30th, I participated in a week of solidarity with refugees in Sudbury. Father David Shulist, SJ, Director of Spiritual Services at the University St. Ignatius Parish, had invited me to be a part of this week and help raise awareness about refugees and their experiences. I gladly accepted.

We kicked off the week with a showing of “Human Flow”, a documentary film produced by Ai Weiwei. It is a powerful film with few words but with striking images that depict the refugees’ plight and their humanity. One cannot remain indifferent after seeing such a film.

The next evening, I was part of a panel of 4 people who were invited to share their knowledge and experience regarding refugees. The title of the Round Table was “Canadians, Refugees & Migrants Now: The Challenge of Sharing the Journey”.

The first speaker was Tara Hurford from Development & Peace who gave us some startling numbers regarding forced displacement and challenged us to follow the Catholic principle of “See – Judge – Act” in order to get to the root causes of this forced displacement.

Anas Karzaï, a sociology professor from Laurentian University who is personally and professionally committed to the cause of forced migration, followed up with a brilliant analysis of the root causes of forced displacement. In 20 minutes, he managed to explain how Western countries, led by the United States, have divided the world into an “us” vs. “them” mentality since 9/11. If our way is good and theirs isn’t, we tend to impose ours which justifies military intervention and continues to feed our military economy. And all of this to maintain our world dominance by continuing to extract resources from the Global South.

I then spoke on how fear drives us to reject the stranger, the refugee. We therefore need to cultivate compassion, love and empathy to overcome this fear. But we can only do it by befriending the other, by walking by his side.

Finally, Sara Torres, a social work professor from Laurentian University who does research on migration in Canada, finished the panelists’ presentations with a talk on the experience of migrant children and their parents in the face of the Child Welfare System in Canada. The lack of cultural sensitivity can lead to devastating consequences for refugee families in Canada.

After the panelists finished their talks, it was the audience’s turn. Members of the audience asked questions and we were able to go deeper into the root causes of forced displacement and the importance of welcoming and accompanying refugees when they do make it to Canada.

The next day, I facilitated the simulation exercise “A Journey into Exile”. Nineteen people participated and “became refugees” for 90 minutes. They experienced forced displacement and had to make decisions, sometimes quickly, that would have a lasting impact on their lives. After their 90-minute experience, we had a rich discussion on the reality of refugees’ lives, the difficulties they face daily, but also the resilience they have in the face of all that adversity.

I left Sudbury thinking: Mission accomplished. Many thanks to the organizers of this solidarity week, Father David Shulist, SJ and Lucien Pelletier, who put the time and energy required to make this a successful event.


Photo Sudbury Film.JPG



Recent News

June 13, 2019 — In The Pope Video for June 2019, Pope Francis speaks to all Catholics, inviting them to look around and observe with an open heart each of the priests in their communities. Holiness always attracts less attention than sin and scandal.

June 13, 2019 — Last May 31 to June 2, 50 young professionals took part in an Ignatian retreat at the Manresa Jesuit Spiritual Renewal Centre. These young people, between the ages of 19 and 39, came from all walks of life.

June 13, 2019 — Ignatius Farm expresses the Program Objectives of the Ignatius Jesuit Centre through organic and relational farming.

June 13, 2019 — Here is a brief summary of news and events that have happened or will happen in the next few days.

June 9, 2019 — Fr. Philip Shano, SJ dealt before with the Holy Spirit’s gifts of piety, wisdom, knowledge and courage. He is dealing this year with fear of the Lord. This is the gift that helps us to be aware of the glory and majesty of God.

June 8, 2019 — Indeed with our dwindling numbers, we religious cannot afford to be competitive, like Jesuits and Dominicans of old. We need to know one another and work together, to be the body of Christ together as men and women, to learn how to perceive the Spirit at work in others as in ourselves.

June 6, 2019 — Jesuit brothers go wherever they are needed and do whatever needs to be done, as “Bros” to their fellow Jesuits, and as “Bros” to all of us looking to find God in all things.

view all news

Search news

Publications

Campion's Brag

Relations Mai 2019

Canadian Jesuits



Loyola House / Ignatius Jesuit Centre
Built in 1964, Loyola House in Guelph, ON has welcomed over 60,000 people of all faiths to deepen ...