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Title: Media Advisory -Flight to Freedom: The Canadian Refugee Experience Since 1957 / Fuir vers la liberté : l'expérience des réfugiés au Canada depuis 1957  •  Size: 16637
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Media Advisory

Does Canada still see itself as a protector of refugees?

Flight to Freedom: The Canadian Refugee Experience Conference in Ottawa,
October 21-23, 2017


Join Canada’s top refugee thought leaders


What is Canada’s role today, given the global rise of anti-immigrant and anti-refugee movements? Experts, policy makers, academics, refugee advocates, and award-winning authors will gather for a three-day conference in Ottawa, October 21-23, 2017. The public are invited to attend and explore Canada’s history of protecting refugees in challenging times, and our Country’s potential role at home and abroad.


Recognizing Canada’s 150th celebrations and the 60th anniversary of the arrival and settlement of 38,000 Hungarian refugees during 1957, this conference investigates how government and civil society can work together. What is Canada’s response to the current global refugee situation?


WHAT: Flight to Freedom: The Canadian Refugee Experience Since 1957
Sat., Oct. 21 (2:00 PM - 6:30 PM, Saint Paul University, Amphitheatre)
Sun., Oct. 22 (8:15 AM - 7:00 PM, Saint Paul University)
Mon., Oct. 23 (9:00 AM - 1:00 PM, Saint Paul University); (2:00 PM - 8:00 PM, The Canadian Museum of History)

REGISTRATION AT DOOR: Open to the public; $75 for 3-day admission; $30 for single day pass and students.

Flight to Freedom Conference Program Highlights

  • Keynote address by The Honourable Bob Rae on October 23rd at 9:30 AM.
  • Readings and talks by Canadian authors: Moyez G. Vassanji, multiple award-winning writer; Tasneem Jamal, a Ugandan Asian child refugee to Canada, journalist and editor.
  • First person accounts by former or new refugees: Judy Trinh, a CBC Ottawa journalist and child refugee from Vietnam; Peter Duschinsky, a retired immigration and foreign service officer who arrived in 1957 as teenager from Hungary; Rabea Alriffai, a recent Syrian refugee and now a graduate student in education at the University of Ottawa.
  • Heart-warming stories: Amina Jalabi, a photographer and Syrian immigrant to Canada will speak of her project to help recent Syrian refugees see their new country through the lens of a camera.
  • Panel discussion with top thought leaders of our time on “Protecting Refugees in Challenging Times: Canada’s role at home and abroad”. Welcome by Mark O’Neill, President and CEO of The Canadian Museum of History; Introduction by Peter Showler, former Chairperson of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, and other experts including Janet Dench, Canadian Council for Refugees.
  • Refugee Experience and Inclusion” art competition for children organized by St. Joe's Women's Centre. Artwork by refugee children and others will be displayed during the conference in Saint Paul University. Winners will be announced by Mathieu Fleury, Councillor for Rideau Vanier Ward in The Canadian Museum of History on October 23rd at 5:00 PM.
  • Screening of a recent documentary on the Vietnamese “Boat People” and their journey to Canada in A Moonless Night. Boat People: 40 Years Later. Screening to be followed by a Q&A with Executive Producer Thi Be Nguyen and Director/Producer Marie HĂ©lène Panisset.

Read the full conference program here: Flight to Freedom - Conference Programme


More About Flight to Freedom


Flight to Freedom has been organized by a partnership committee brought together and sponsored by the Canada-Hungary Educational Foundation. Other partners include the Canadian Immigration Historical Society, the University of Ottawa, Saint Paul University, The Canadian Museum of History, The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, St. Joseph’s Parish in Ottawa, and other interested institutions and individuals.


What is the significance of 1957? The arrival of Hungarian refugees in 1957 was the first time such a large group of refugees arrived here from one county. That experience, identified by the Canadian government in 2010 as an event of national historic significance, helped shape the development of subsequent refugee policies and programs. When large numbers of Ugandan Asians and Vietnamese refugees arrived in the 1970s, and more recently Syrians, Canada had the example of 1957 as a benchmark. Flight to Freedom will explore the impact of refugees from these and other groups on Canadian society and culture.


To schedule an interview or to obtain media passes, please contact:

Heidi Vincent

Judy Young
President, The Canada-Hungary Education Foundation




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