Poetry night celebrates diverse immigrant population in Saskatoon
Sharing experiences helps to build bridges, particpants say
Immigrants and refugees who have called Saskatoon home for years shared their experiences, through poetry, at an event Wednesday.
Seven poets hit the stage at Fédération des francophones de Saskatoon, also known as Le Relais.
The event, which was also a fundraiser for the Saskatoon Refugee Coalition and the International Women of Saskatoon, was aimed at welcoming newly arrived Syrian refugees.
"I see us like a bridge between Saskatoon people," Ljuban Klobocar, a Serbian from Croatia in the former Yugoslavia, said. "Because some of us experienced the same problems and wars like Syrians."
Ahmad Majid, with roots from Iraq, said he felt it was important for him to be part of the event.
"If there's a travesty or something horrible happening in another part of the world and we have the ability to help, why shouldn't we?" Majid said.
Klobocar recalled his own days during the armed conflict in the former Yugoslavia.
"I became a refugee in my own country," he said. With a connection to Canada (his mother was born here) his family was able to escape the danger and went to Saskatoon.
"My mother had a sister who helped us all to come here and start a new life," Klobacar said.
One of the greatest challenges facing immigrants is the language barrier, Julio Torres-Recinos, who was born in El Salvador, said. He added, with a chuckle, that it would be nice if something could be done about the cold weather.
Coping with the emotional strain of leaving is also a big deal, Majid said, talking about how his parents had to rebuild their lives in a new country.
"The biggest challenge was having to leave everything that they had worked for, all the connections and all the family and everything they had built and start, literally, at ground zero — from the bottom — and have to build yourself up again."
Torres-Recinos said he tries, through his poetry, to express appreciation of his new country while still connecting with his roots.
"For example, the love that we still have feel for our home countries," he said. "This is sometimes the reality for many immigrants. We come here, we belong to Canada. We love this country, but still we cannot forget the fact that we were born in a different country."
Majid said he hopes people will understand, through the poetry event, that there are many different immigrant or refugee stories.
"I grew up, for the most part, in Moose Jaw and I also spent two years growing up in the Middle East," he explained. "So I feel like I have the ability to see both sides and, through my poetry, I wish to create a sort of bridge that can connect us."