World Refugee Day celebrations in Toronto, June 20


The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in collaboration with Canadian Red Cross, COSTI Immigrant Services, Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture, Christie Refugee Welcome Centre and Sojourn House is organizing an event for World Refugee Day on Saturday, June 20, 2009.  This year’s theme is ‘Real People, Real Needs’ in which UNHCR has chosen to highlight the human story of refugees and their needs, in order to increase awareness and understanding about the importance of meeting those needs in an effort to improve the lives of refugees and other persons of concern to UNHCR.

As background information, on December 4, 2000, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution naming 20 June as World Refugee Day.  An internationally recognized World Refugee Day is an opportunity to salute the indomitable spirit of the world's refugees, and as such is a day of solidarity and celebration.  Around the world, this day of festivity and tribute is expressed in a hundred different ways.  It is a day in which we think about the world's refugees, and extend to them our encouragement, support and respect. This is an annual event celebrated across the world - please refer to the website for details. The City of Toronto will be designating June 20 World Refugee Day as will several other cities across Canada.  For details on the Canadian celebration of World Refugee Day, please clik here and here

This year we are planning a Peace Walk with the theme of “Walk a Mile in a Refugee’s Shoes” which will commence at Nathan Phillips Square and conclude at Queen’s Park North.  At Queen’s Park, we will have a concert, prominent speakers, interactive art displays, simulation of a refugee camp and an awards ceremony for finalists of the First UNHCR-COSTI sponsored Amateur Poetry Contest on Human Rights and Refugees, an initiative for grade 4-12 students in the Greater Toronto Area schools.  Please note that this is not a fund-raising event - the concert will be free and is meant to raise awareness of the positive contributions made by refugees in Canada.