Why we shouldn’t Typecast Refugees

By: Jack Xu

“They don’t look like refugees,” a friend of mine remarked when she saw a picture of a refugee family at the airport.

I decided to dig a bit deeper. “Why do you think so?” I asked her. “Sorry, I had a different image of refugees in mind. This family looks so relaxed and carefree,” she said. I don’t blame her, nor do I blame those who believe that refugees look a certain way; haggard, shabby and desperate, all thanks to popular culture and millions of such images trickling down to us every day. That said, it is essential to not categorically dismiss these images, since they are a reflection of the refugee reality.

Contrary to popular belief, many of the refugees who come into Canada are educated, and open to new learnings. Several success stories of refugees in the recent past have corroborated this.

A recent report of the Forced Displacement and Development Study Group talks about a different approach while dealing with refugees. It says, “The scale and urgency of the refugee crisis presents a window of opportunity for donors, humanitarian and development agencies, host countries, the private sector, and civil society to forge new partnerships that give refugees and host communities a chance to thrive together. Evidence shows that when policies and programs promote refugees’ self-reliance and integration into host countries’ development plans, the short-term costs are outweighed by refugees’ longer-term economic and social contributions.”

Here at MCIS, we take the refugee issue seriously and make it a point to support refugees by not only removing language barriers at a subsidized cost, but also providing them with the right resources. Recently, we sponsored a Syrian family of four, whose case needed to be expedited. The family has arrived and is now is being helped by the MCIS team.

So, if you come across a refugee who does not look like a “refugee”, think again. They might not look like they need your help, but your help matters. So, pick up the phone and give us a call to get them the assistance they need.

-Vivek Vijayapalan, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, June 22, 2017