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Mapping Memories: Participatory Media, Place-Based Stories, Refugee Youth


How many people in the room have come from another country? How many of you have parents that have come from another country? How many of you have grandparents that have come from another countr

Scratch the surface and we all have stories about newcomers in our family histories‌

Who is a refugee?

Refugees are individuals who are forced to flee their country. Immigrants have a choice to leave their country.

The exact definition is found in The 1951 Refugee Convention: A person who has a “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.� - Article 1

Examples of individuals seeking refugee status are: • a human rights activist • a member of a political party • a person of a particular religion or ethnic group • an individual threatened because of their sexual orientation

Where do refugees come from?

Source: World Refugee Survey 2009 –

Where do refugees go to?

Source: World Refugee Survey 2009 –

Meet Leonardo* • 22 years old, lived with his parents. • From Mexico. • Studied social work at a university.

*Facts have been adapted to protect identity.

Meet Leonardo (part 2) • Participated in a public demonstration against government treatment of students. He was arrested, but escaped prison. • He fled Mexico to find safety.

More about Leonardo • Doesn’t have any official documents (a passport). He escaped from prison and wasn’t able to collect any belongings before he fled the country.

International law recognizes that refugees are fleeing desperate situations, and that they should not be punished for entering a country illegally.

What is Canada’s responsibility to refugees? Canada has laws in place to protect refugees who reach our country. Under the Refugee Convention, Canada (and other countries) must NOT send refugees back to persecution.

How does Canada figure out if people like Leonardo meet the refugee definition?


Refugee determination system: Immigration and Refugee Board

Is Leonardo a refugee ? • He participated in a public demonstration against the government. He was arrested, but escaped prison.

He is persecuted because of his political opinion (from the Refugee Convention).

• Fled to Canada

He has crossed an international border.

• Makes a refugee claim (asks for protection) in Canada

He is asking Canada for ‘international protection’.

Canada and Refugees • Some people, like Leonardo, come to Canada on their own and ask for protection as a refugee (make a refugee claim). People like Leonardo are called refugee claimants. • A Canadian official decides if a refugee claimant’s story meets the definition of needing refugee protection in Canada. If yes, they are refugees.

When refugees arrive in Canada, their journey isn’t over. What other challenges do they face?

CHALLENGES  Learning a new language  Catching up with missed school  Finding and training for a new job  Making new friends  Providing for family and friends in other country (sending money home)  Adapting to a new climate (maybe seeing snow for the first time)  Refugee claimants have to prepare to tell their story. This is stressful and emotional.

Can you name five countries in Africa?

(Republic of ) ZIMBABWE

- Three official languages: English, Shona and Ndebele. - Was a colony of England. Became independent in 1980. - 1980: President Robert Mugabe became of the Head of State and Commander in Chief of the armed forces. He has been in power ever since (31 years).

- Zimbabweans were not happy with Mugabe as a ruler - Said that the Zimbabwean government was violating a number of basic human rights. - 1990s: students and workers often demonstrated to express their discontent with the government despite a ban on political rallies by the police.

- Economy suffered because corruption by the Mugabe regime.




- General health and well-being of the civilian population also began to decline. The economic problems and political repression in Zimbabwe led to a flood of refugees into neighbouring countries and beyond. An estimated 3.4 million Zimbabweans, a quarter of the population, had fled by mid 2007. The majority went to South Africa and Botswana.

The people of Zimbabwe continue to protest against Mugabe ’s rule and are determined to create better circumstances for the next generation.

Ayanda Dube

How many of you have had to change homes when it wasn’t your decision? How many of you have felt like an outsider or like the new kid on the block at some point in your life? Can you remember what that felt like? Do you remember one person who made that time easier?

Which country has recently been recognized for the high number of women represented in the government?


- First inhabited by indigenous groups including the Hutus (farmers) and the Tutsis ( cattle owners) - Groups were not very different from each other (shared the same Bantu language and culture and lived peacefully together).

- Colonized** by Germany and then by Belgium (after WWI). - These colonial* nations classified the Tutsis and the Hutus according to wealth (created a lot of tension). - 1933: Belgians ordered that every person needed an identity card to determine if they were Tutsi or Hutu (tension worsened)

** colonialism is the control of one nation over another, weaker nation, usually in order to take control of their natural resources.

- 1962: country gained independence, but tensions between the Hutus and Tutsis continued to develop over the next 30 years. - 1994: tensions between the Hutus and Tutsis culminated in a genocide** where extremist Hutu militia killed hundreds of thousands of Tutsis and moderate Hutus. - Historians, politicians and journalists still debate over the lack of international response and aid during and after this genocide.

** A genocide is defined as “the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group.�

- 2001: Rwanda adopted a new flag - 2003 : held its first post-genocide presidential elections. - The ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front has worked hard to abolish ethnic divisions. Today, Hutus still make up 85% of the population, while the Tutsis make up 15%.

Roots to Rap With

Does music play an important role in your life? How so? How many people speak a language other than English at home? How many of you listen to music in different languages? If you had to introduce yourself through a song – a song that represents you – what song would that be?

What Can I do to Help?  Find out more about your own family stories  Plan a commemoration for a historical event, like the Rwandan genocide or the Holocaust  With your class find out how you can help refugees in your neighbourhood  Figure out how to make your school a welcome place for newcomers.  Stand up and take action for refugees in Canada! Join the CCR Youth Network:

Presentation developed by Mapping Memories & Canadian Council for Refugees. Special thanks to Rebecca Lessard and Colleen French.

School Presentation - English  
School Presentation - English  

Mapping Memories ( is a collaborative media project which uses personal stories and a range of media tools (vi...