Refugees fleeing conflict, newcomers celebrated at Edmonton City Hall on World Refugee Day

In honour of World Refugee Day and Indigenous Peoples Day, dozens gathered at Edmonton City Hall Monday.

Dozens gathered at Edmonton City Hall on Monday to recognize people from around the world who were forced to leave their homes and communities in search of a better life.

The event was in honour of World Refugee Day (June 20) and National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21).

“They are celebrated intentionally on the same day and the same space to kind of shed light on the similarities between newcomer and Indigenous peoples’ experiences, and the importance of actually supporting everyone, no matter what background they come from, no matter what ethnicity they are,” said Aamia Azhar with Roots on 6 – a digital platform celebrating multigenerational newcomers and Indigenous peoples.

people gather at Edmonton City Hall

World Refugee Day celebration at Edmonton City Hall on June 21, 2022. (Credit: CityNews/Laura Krause)

The event began with a virtual smudging ceremony. There was singing and prayer.

Refugees shared their personal stories about fleeing their home countries in search of a better life in Canada.

“This is six months I am living in Edmonton with my family,” said Razia Saramad, who fled Afghanistan with her family. “Despite the difficulties of adjusting to a new environment, new culture, new language and new climate, especially for my parents who are older and don’t know the language, this was much easier compared to what could have happened back home for us, if we did not have this chance to come here in Canada.”

MORE ON SARAMAD’S JOURNEY: After fleeing Taliban, Afghan refugee in Edmonton shares message of hope

Since August 2021, Canada has welcomed more than 16,000 Afghans into the country.

And in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, more than 43,000 Ukrainian refugees have fled to Canada in search of a better life.

“Here in Canada, I found hope,” said Saramad. “I have the opportunity to dream again.”

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