A Calgary community organization is celebrating World Refugee Day by drawing attention to the positive contributions that refugees have made to Canadian society over the decades.
"We wanted to be able to talk about ... all the wonderful things that refugees have been able to bring to our country ... even after having gone through such strife," said Anila Lee Yuen, CEO of the Centre for Newcomers.
Lee Yuen said refugees have made positive economic, social and cultural contributions to Canada over the years, and have even become key decision makers at a national level.
For example, Canada's current Minister for Democratic Institutions, Maryam Monsef, came to Canada as a refugee from Afghanistan, Lee Yuen said.
Volunteers step up
This year, Lee Yuen said the Centre for Newcomers has seen a growth spurt in volunteers, mainly in response to the situation in Syria.
She said 566 volunteers donated more than 11,000 hours of their time this year.
"If we calculated that using the living wage, that's close to a $250,000 of in-kind services that volunteers in our community have provided to assist us.
"I think that shows a much better picture in terms of our community integration," Lee Yuen said.
Each year, the Centre for Newcomers helps more than 10,000 newcomers get settled in Calgary. Roughly 20 per cent of those are refugees from around the world.
Tonight, the organization is hosting an event to share success stories, celebrate accomplishments, and encourage a deeper discussion of the realities faced by refugees upon their arrival.
Alberta's Minister of Tourism and Culture Ricardo Miranda, officials from the Aga Khan Foundation, and several resettled refugees will speak at the event, which takes place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Marlborough Community Association.
With files from The Homestretch