ISSN 1710-6931 July 13, 2007 Issue 103

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I Am Canadian: Refugee Education Video

In its 2003 report, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) recognized the right to education as a human right of refugees; a right which gives them the necessary survival skills and also is their key to sustainable and better future.

Proper education facilitates easy adaptation to the new environment and has been recognized by the UNHCR as a rehabilitation tool for refugee children and youth.

Senior education economist with the World Bank, Alec Ian Gershberg, has pointed out that learning a language (such as English) is only one aspect of refugees' education and the governments have to become more attuned to provide a wider range of programs and services that help the students in integrating economically and socially.

All these concerns have been wonderfully reflected in the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) video which can be accessed on YouTube. The video was filmed in Edmonton, as part of the CCR Youth Network Strategy Session and the Consultation on The Successful Integration of Refugees and Immigrants.

Put together by a team of refugee rights and youth advocates as well as students of the English as a Second Language (ESL) program at St. Joseph High School, it voices the challenges that refugee youth face in Canada.

The video has a mixture of rapid interviews with refugee youth in Canada and a background track which highlights the concerns they think are paramount for a better life in Canada.

Most think that gaining a better understanding and command over the English language is one of the ways in which they can enhance their skills, apply for higher education and obtain better jobs in Canada.

The video adeptly brings to the fore the dilemmas that refugee youth face in adapting to the new environment and how the knowledge of English language dictates their identification as Canadian as well as their ability to assimilate and merge with the society.

It suggests that irrespective of their inability to speak fluent English; the refugee youth have a right to be in Canada and feel comfortable and welcome; thus emphasizing on the accommodative approach that needs to be adopted while framing policies and regulations for refugee youth.

Thoughts and comments on how the video can be used may be sent to Colleen French at ccr4@web.ca. The video can be linked on websites as well as shared with others.

Promote refugee rights your own way!

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