Handcrafted buttons welcome Syrian refugees to Quebec

A Montreal woman hopes to counter anti-refugee sentiments with handcrafted welcome buttons for new arrivals.

Montreal woman uses crafts to raise money, awareness for new arrivals

The buttons have been distributed all over Quebec and even in other parts of the world. (Radio-Canada)

A Montreal woman hopes to counter anti-refugee sentiments with handcrafted welcome buttons for new arrivals.

Marie Brodeur-Gélinas wants the waves of Syrian refugees that continue to arrive in Quebec to feel welcome.

"I very quickly felt this was the tool I was missing to express my desire to welcome, to counter hateful messages that pollute social media and garbage radio," Brodeur-Gélinas told Radio-Canada.

Brodeur-Gélinas bought the rights to the illustration she saw on social media and immediately got to work to make it a button. 

She started with a small order of 1,000 buttons but as the movement gained traction, she ordered another 10,000 this week.

"I wanted to show that we can wear on our lapels a message that is softer, positive and welcoming."

The money raised goes toward RIVO-Résilience, an organization that offers psychological services to refugees. Brodeur-Gélinas has given $800.

From churches to clinics

The buttons aren't only limited to Quebec — they have made it as far as British Columbia and Switzerland.

Doctor Gilles de Margerie, who works in a CLSC in the borough of Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, decided to pin a button to his stethoscope.

He often treats patients who came to Quebec seeking asylum or refuge and he wants them to feel welcome.

Money raised will go to an organization that offers psychological support to refugees. (Radio-Canada)

"We know that in healthcare, it's essential to create trust and it is also important as a welcoming society," de Margerie said. "So if a button can do that, why not?"

A parish in Lévis ordered buttons to distribute and raise money for an arriving Syrian family.

"It's a way to raise awareness and to counteract the fear associated with the arrival of refugees," said Ginette L'Heureux from Saint-Joseph-de-Lévis Parish.

Based on a report by Radio-Canada's Marie-Laure Josselin

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