Saskatoon

Saskatoon poetry night to welcome refugees

‘Refugees Welcome Multicultural Poetry Night’ raising money to help Syrian refugees. The poets are immigrants and refugees who now call the bridge city home.

‘Refugees Welcome Multicultural Poetry Night’ raising money to help Syrian refugees

Renata Cosic in her home town of Banja Luka in Bosnia, taken this past summer. She came to Canada as a refugee in 1996. (Renata Cosic/Submitted to CBC)

Immigrants and refugees who already call Saskatoon home are using poetry to welcome incoming Syrian refugees to the city.

Refugees Welcome Multicultural Poetry Night will see seven poets with different perspectives of experiencing Canada hit the stage at Fédération des francophones de Saskatoon, also known as Le Relais, on Wednesday night. All of the poets are immigrants or refugees; one is the child of refugees.

"Poets will share a couple of poems, one in English and one in their first language, if they have one, and also talk about their story or their journey," organizer Renata Ćosić said.

When you leave your country to another one, it is hard to integrate and to have a new life because you leave everything behind.- Sueli de Freitas, poet and immigrant from Brazil 

​Ćosić came to Canada in 1996 as a 13-year-old refugee from Bosnia after living in Croatia for four years. She said she knows how difficult it can be to adapt to a new country and culture.

The poetry night is also a fundraiser for the Saskatoon Refugee Coalition and the International Women of Saskatoon. Ćosić said they chose those organizations because they are offering programs for refugees but are not getting direct federal funding.

Freitas and other immigrants and refugees are involved in a poetry night to raise money to help incoming Syrian refugees. 1:04

Poet Sueli de Freitas moved from Brazil to Saskatoon, and said, as a newcomer herself, she knows it's important to make people feel welcome.  

"When you leave your country to another one, it is hard to integrate and to have a new life because you leave everything behind. You have to learn new skills, new language, everything is new to you," she said.

She said, especially with language barriers, poetry makes it easy to connect with people. It will also help her share advice with any refugees who will be calling Saskatoon home.

"The advice I always give to anyone that arrives here is come with open arms, embrace the culture, and embrace the challenge," she said. "You can overcome them and you can become yourself again."

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