2nd Session, 41st Parliament,

Volume 149, Issue 157

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Honourable Leo Housakos, Speaker

World Refugee Day

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, this past Saturday, June 20, marked World Refugee Day. Our world now exists in a fine balance, one where displacement and uncertainty are the norm for millions. Civil wars and turmoil have displaced mothers, daughters, sons and fathers, removing them far from their home.

Honourable senators, the separation is not simply a physical one limited to the parameters of geography. It is an emotional one — knowing that your child will not be able to take their first steps in the backyard of that home that you had struggled to pay for, earning every day, knowing you were doing it for the stability of your family, only to have your dream shattered.

Instead, as a refugee, your reality becomes one of living in a refugee camp. I have been to the camps in Turkey, where they provided some of the best camps for the Syrian refugees. I have been to camps in Darfur, where what exists is reaching at wisps by calling it a “camp.”

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Despite the circumstances of the camp and despite the new-found peace they may find that does not exist in their home country, these camps are not a home. There are over 50 million refugees in the world — 50 million people do not have a home.

Honourable senators, as we reflect on how we can better our role in supporting refugees, I urge you to remember that the end goal for refugees should not simply be a refugee camp: While they may not be able to get their first home back, they should be able to rebuild what they once had and see their child’s footsteps in a new backyard, one they can proudly and safely call “home” again.

Honourable senators, it was 43 years ago that I became a refugee. It sometimes feels as if it was just yesterday. I remember those terrible days even today with clarity. But I also remember with clarity the kindness of Canadians to Somali and other communities, and to my family and me. Thank you for making me one of you.

I would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Chrétien for their continuous friendship and love, as well as the Honourable Thomas Dohm, former Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, my mentor, law partner and friend; and his wife, Faith, and children who helped us to integrate.

I want to say to all Canadians, thank you for making us proud Canadians.

 

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