Refugees, resilience, and reliable cars: Langley art exhibit juxtaposes Syrian refugees in Lebanon with Volvos

A photo exhibit titled "Volvos of Lebanon: Stories of refugees, resilience and reliable cars," compares the resilience of Syrian refugees to Volvos.

Photographer says common denominator between refugees and Volvos is resilience

An image from the Menonite Central Comittee's Volvos of Lebanon exhibit. (Scott D. Campbell)

What do Volvos have in common with Syrian refugees in Lebanon? 

Resilience, according to photographer Scott Campbell.

Campbell has compiled a photo exhibit on the subject, titled Volvos of Lebanon: Stories of Refugees, Resilience and Reliable Cars, which will be showcased in Fort Langley, B.C. 

He visited Lebanon in 2016 on a learning tour with the Mennonite Central Committee aimed at providing assistance to some of the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees that have entered the country. 

While Campbell was there, he says he was surprised to see a high number of Volvos on the roads. 

"It's really quite jarring to see these western, safe, family vehicles in this eastern, troubled context, where families are just trying to eke out a living," Campbell told The Early Edition host Rick Cluff. 

Campbell says it was jarring to see family cars like Volvos in such a troubled area. (Scott D. Campbell)

Campbell, who himself owns a 1990 Volvo 240 wagon, says as he started to take pictures of the cars, he realized that the stories that we're hearing about the crisis and the country can all be represented in the cars.  

"This idea of resilience, or kind of pushing forward, of trying to reach to something better is really where those two intersect."

One of the images featured in Campbell's exhibit at the Fort Gallery in Fort Langley. (Scott D. Campbell)

At one point in his trip, he said he was in the southern neighbourhood of Beirut and saw the same white Volvo that he had back in B.C.

"At that moment my two worlds collided, that exact car was sitting in my driveway back in Fort Langley, and here I was in the middle of Beirut and those two worlds came together and dissolved at that moment, where I was living two realities at once," Campbell said. 

For him, he says the photos in this exhibit can connect people from different parts of the world. 

The exhibit runs from Nov. 22 to Dec. 10 at the Fort Gallery in Fort Langley.

With files from The Early Edition

About the Author

Cory Correia


Cory Correia is a reporter with CBC Vancouver. Send him an email at