Syrian refugee life jackets on display at Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
Jackets were worn by child refugees who braved a dangerous journey across the Mediterranean in 2014
Two small orange life jackets hang inside a glass case at Canada's Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax.
One made of thin plastic — with POOL School in a colourful logo on the front — clearly not an approved life-saving device.
But both were worn by child refugees who braved a dangerous journey across the Mediterranean in 2014, fleeing war-torn homelands, including Syria.
"This is actually a toy and you can't in fact blow up the front of it, " said museum CEO Marie Chapman, pointing to the display.
"This one is regulation, but nonetheless very fragile for such a large crossing."
Chapman said the museum doesn't know what happened to the children who wore them, but added many children would have worn something similar — or less — when making that perilous crossing.
She said most refugees must leave their belongings behind but possessions are often the least of their concerns.
"There's a quote from a woman in 2011 and it talked about her son being tortured and all she wanted after that was to know her family was safe. And she didn't care about what she had. And to me, that is the essence of all that we talk about in here," Chapman said.
"People are seeking refuge to be safe and for their families to be safe."
The life jackets were collected by Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders field workers. They are currently on-loan from Canada Science and Technology Museum and will be on display until March 31.
Chapman hopes they will serve as a reminder of the global migrant crisis.
"What I really hope people get out of all of this is the next time they read a headline or somebody says, 'Oh these immigrants, you know, it's such a drain on us' is to realize that we're all human. And that Canada is a welcoming country and there's room for all of us," she said.
"And that we welcome and understand and helped people feel comfortable in our home until it's theirs."