SASKATOON – An indigenous welcome event Wednesday in Saskatoon for recent refugees will go a long way in creating a lasting relationship between the two groups, according to organizers.
“When you don’t know each other, there’s that prejudgment and lack of understanding,” said Beulah Gana, the director of the Saskatchewan Association of Immigrant Settlement and Integration Agencies.
“With understanding of each other’s culture and where you are coming from, there’s a welcoming community.”
Saskatoon-based music video raising money to help Syrian refugees
Canada on track to meet refugee deadline: officials
48% of Syrian refugees not yet in permanent housing
Roughly 200 refugees took in Wednesday’s event at Holy Family Cathedral, which was organized in part by Gana. It featured speeches from indigenous groups, who explained parts of First Nations history and certain customs.
“We want to just provide an event that says that we’re behind you and we want to support you in any way that we can,” said Brad Bird, the cultural coordinator for the Aboriginal Friendship Centres of Saskatchewan.
“We want to ensure that they have a good understanding of where we come from as an aboriginal community, how the community around us was built.”
READ MORE: Syrian refugees thank Saskatoon for warm welcome
Similar events are planned in Regina and Moose Jaw over the coming days. Organizers say the effort is in response to the Syrian refugee crisis and is open to all refugees who have arrived in Saskatchewan since the start of November.
“This country embrace and hug us and we not forget these warm moments and I think these unforgettable moments for us,” said Raad Al Jamous, one of Saskatoon’s Syrian refugees who participated in Wednesday’s event.
“I found warming, welcoming, that make me to forget the cold weather here in Saskatoon.”