World Refugee Day 2020: We Are Distant But Together

By Alexandra Dawley, Program Manager, Refugee Settlement and Integration


One person is forcibly displaced every two seconds due to conflict or persecution. As of 2020, the UN Refugee Agency estimates that over 70.8 million people have been forced to flee their homes worldwide. This means there is currently more refugees in the world than ever before in recorded human history.

As one of BC’s two in-depth service providers for refugee claimants, MOSAIC’s Refugee Settlement and Integration Program provides vital support and programming to over 1,500 refugee claimants and asylum seekers annually. We walk alongside people as they go through the uncertain and difficult process of claiming asylum in Canada. We also have the honour of seeing many of these same people rise above, experience victories big and small, live with pride, and give back to the community.

MOSAIC has been a leader within the Multi-Agency Partnership (MAP BC) since 2007, and founding co-chair of the Multi-Agency Partnership Fraser Valley (MAP FV) since 2018. These groups are unique collectives of over 40 agencies working together to understand and serve the unique needs of refugee claimants across BC.

Held every year on June 20, World Refugee Day (WRD) commemorates the strength, resilience, courage, and community contributions of refugees around the globe.

We recognize that this year, WRD will be celebrated during a time of record displacement, amid a global pandemic, and against a backdrop of dramatic social change. With COVID-19 and ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, the need for a more aware and equitable world is at the forefront.

As a leader within MAP, MOSAIC is proud to present Distant But Together – A Virtual Celebration of World Refugee Day During COVID-19 on Saturday, June 20 from 2-4 p.m. The event will include storytelling, poetry, musical performances, and a World Refugee Day proclamation from Kennedy Stewart, Mayor of Vancouver.

Included in the program is internationally acclaimed violinist, Sari Alesh (pictured above). A former touring member of the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra, Sari’s musical career was cut short by war and he resettled to Canada in 2016. Sari still finds passion in music and is currently attending university to become a music teacher.

“World Refugee Day is an important day to build community and deepen solidarity between refugees and Canadians.” Sari goes on to express, “This day reminds everyone that many people in the world have been forced to leave their own homeland due to war and conflict, but we are all in it together, living, listening, and collaborating to create a better life for all.”


To register for MAP’s free event, visit: https://mapbc.org/about/events/

For more information about MOSAIC’s Refugee Settlement and Integration Program: https://www.mosaicbc.org/services/settlement/rsip/

Header photo credit: UNHCR/Annie Sakkab