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Flight to Freedom: The Canadian Refugee Experience Since 1957



                                                                OCTOBER 21-23, 2017


This 3-day conference seeks to reflect on and examine the development of Canadian refugee policies and programs since 1957 (the arrival of 38,000 Hungarian refugees) – mainly those affecting the Ugandan Asian and Vietnamese refugee movements in the 1970s and the most recent arrival of Syrian refugees, but also various other groups. The conference will bring together academics, policy makers, sponsors, NGOs, students, refugee workers and refugees of various backgrounds with their personal narratives to engender a discussion around central issues of our time: the global search of refugees for a safe home and the role of immigration in the Canadian nation-building process in the 20th and 21st centuries, while reflecting on the recent rise of anti-immigration discourses. A rich and diverse cultural program will frame the conference.


Saturday, October 21

Saint Paul University/ Université Saint-Paul, Amphitheatre (223 Main St, Ottawa, K1S 1C4)

14:00 Conference registration

15:00 Welcome and introduction of the conference – Members of organizing committee

15:15 Official opening in the presence of (and greetings by) dignitaries and representatives of government, refugee agencies, academic institutions.

Session 1.  Creative expressions of migration, displacement and multiple identities

16:00 Paper presentations followed by Q&A period

Chair: Lilly Koltun, artist, former Director of the Portrait Gallery of Canada  

Amina Jalabi and Asem Malouh, Montreal: First Flashes: Photographs of a New Life in Canada

David DeGrow, Doctoral candidate, University of Toronto: The Vietnam War and Experimental Theatre in Toronto

Gábor Gelencsér, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest: There and Back: Displacements in Hungarian Feature Film After 1989

Salim A. Nabi, Independent scholar, Toronto: Refugee Children and Educational Gaps: The Case of Afghan Youth in GTA & Lesbos

17:30 Reception and reading by author Tasneem Jamal


Sunday, October 22

Saint Paul University / Université Saint-Paul Amphitheatre

8:15 Registration, coffee and pastries

Session 2. Canada's refugee movements and policies since 1957

8:30 Overview presentation by Harold Troper, University of Toronto: Refugees to Canada: An Historical Overview

9:00 Paper presentations followed by Q&A period

Chair: Monica MacDonald, Manager of Research, Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21  

Laura Madokoro, McGill University: Resisting Change: White Settler Societies and the Question of Refugees in Asia, 1949–1960

Mike Molloy, Canadian Immigration Historical Society: Refugee Policy from 1957: A Barometer of Evolving Values

Jan Raska, Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21: Stability, Treatability, Recovery: Canada and Medical Admissions during World Refugee Year, 1959–1960

Mária Palasik, Department of Scientific Cooperation and Public Education, Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security: Those Who Did Not Integrate: Political Considerations as a Reason to Stay in Canada or Return to Hungary

10:45 Break

11:00 Roundtable discussion. Living the experience. Former refugees present their experiences, followed by discussion and Q&A period

Moderator: Marie Boglari, University of Ottawa/Saint Paul University

Peter Duschinsky, Ottawa: The Refugee Experience and Personal Identity

Ranjith Kulatilake, Toronto: Serving LGBTQ+ Newcomers – A Narrative of a Gay Frontline Worker

Judy Trinh, CBC Ottawa: Beyond Settlement toward Success   

Rabea AlRiffai, University of Ottawa: A Spring of Hope and Motivation: A Syrian refugee

12:30 – 13:45 Catered lunch

Session 3: Settlement and integration, multiculturalism and inter-ethnic relations

13:45 Overview presentation by Leslie Laczko, Emeritus, University of Ottawa

14:15 Paper presentations followed by Q&A period

Chair: Sophie Cloutier, Director, Research Centre in Public Ethics and Governance, Saint Paul University

Christopher Adam, Carleton University: Two Solitudes: The 1956–57 Hungarian Refugee Crisis in the English and French Canadian Press

Fernando Mata, University of Ottawa: Tracking the Interregional Mobility of Recently Arrived Refugees in Canada: Data Snapshots from the IMDB

Nivedita Das Kundu, Centre for Refugee Studies, York University: Refugee Afghan Women’s Journey from Kabul to Canada through India

Khaliq Martin, York University: Hooyos: Somali Settlement Difficulties and the Resilience of Somali-Canadian Mothers

16:00 Coffee and refreshments

16:30 Roundtable discussion: Receiving Refugees: The Role of Settlement and Advocacy Agencies

Moderator and introductory remarks: Janet Dench, Executive Director, Canadian Council for Refugees/Conseil canadien pour les réfugiés

Corinne Prince St Amand, Director General, Settlement and Integration Policy Branch, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Gina Csanyi-Robah, Executive Director, Canadian Romani Alliance, Vancouver

Sylvain Thibault, coordonnateur du volet parrainage des réfugiés, Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes, Montréal

Carl Nicholson, Executive Director, Catholic Centre for Immigrants, Ottawa

18:00 Reading by award-winning author M. G. Vassanji


Monday, October 23

Saint Paul University / Université Saint-Paul, Amphitheatre

9:00 Coffee and pastries  

9:30 Conference Keynote presentation by The Hon. Bob Rae, PC, CC, OOnt, QC (Senior Partner, Olthuis Kleer Townshend, and Professor, Victoria University, University of Toronto) followed by Q&A period

Session 4: The global rise of anti-immigration, anti-refugee political and populist movements

10:30 Paper presentations followed by Q&A period

Introduction and Closing Remarks by Chair: Paul Heinbecker,  former Canadian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN, former Ambassador to Germany, Director of the Laurier Centre for Global Relations, and Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) in Waterloo

Katalin Fábián, Lafayette College: The Immigration Debate between Hungary and the EU: A Clash of Civilizations?

Réka Sárközy, National Library of Hungary / Hungarian Theatre and Film Academy: Behind Hungary’s Poster Wars

Harini Sivalingam, York University: Waves of Fear: Forced Migration by Sea

Jaime Lenet, McGill University: Deter, Deny, and Deport: Canada and the “Other” Hungarians

13:00 Bag lunch (contributed by St. Joseph’s Parish) and transfer to Canadian Museum of History, 100 Laurier Street, Gatineau, QC K1A OM8

14:00 Meeting at the Canadian Museum of History for a guided tour of the Canadian History Hall, the vibrant new exhibition inaugurated on July 1, 2017

Location for afternoon program: Theatre, Canadian Museum of History

15:30 Closing panel discussion: Protecting Refugees in Challenging Times: Canada’s Role at Home and Abroad. Open to the public.

Words of Welcome: Mark O’Neill, President and CEO, Canadian Museum of History

Moderator: Andrew Burtch, Post-1945 History, Canadian War Museum, and Adjunct Research Professor, Carleton University

Introduction: Peter Showler, University of Ottawa / former Chairperson, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada

Other speakers:

Naomi Alboim, Distinguished Fellow, School of Policy Studies, Queen’s University

Emilie Coyle, Director, Refugee Sponsorship Support Program, Refugee Hub, University of Ottawa

Janet Dench, Executive Director, Canadian Council for Refugees

Mitchell Goldberg, President, Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers

James Trepanier, Curator of Post-Confederation Canada, Canadian Museum of History  

17:00 Reception – with presentation by Mathieu Fleury, Councillor for Rideau-Vanier Ward, Ottawa, of the prize for the winner of the “Refugee Experience and Inclusion” art competition for children (organized by St. Joe's Women's Centre, Ottawa)

18:30 Public screening of the documentary Une nuit sans lune / A Moonless Night. Boat People: 40 ans après / 40 Years Later (2016). The screening will be followed by a Q&A with executive producer Thi Be Nguyen and director/producer Marie-Hélène Panisset.

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