What they knew their country to be: YWCA marks World Refugee Day

YWCA Settlement Services had live entertainment for their World Refugee Day event on June 20, 2019. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

Prince Albert’s YWCA Settlement Services celebrated World Refugee Day on Thursday evening with a multicultural fashion show, dancing and food tasting fundraiser.

The previous Wesley United Church was overflowing with people participating in and watching the fashion show.

Cheers erupted as refugees stepped on the stage in traditional outfits from their home countries. Cellphones popped out above the crowd to video them walking down the ‘runway.’

Three young girls listen to live music after the fashion show at YWCA Settlement Services World Refugee Day event on June 20, 2019. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

Settlement Services Manager Carolyn Hobden said they like to put on activities every month for the families to come together. She said not only does it allow them to connect under a common ground, but it teaches them about Canadian celebrations like Easter and Christmas.

Naturally, the staff jointly set up the fundraiser for World Refugee Day.

“It kind of gives you a little bit of goosebumps,” said Hobden about the fashion show.

“It’s really nice that they can be proud of their culture even though they have come through wars and persecution and lots of family trauma, but now that they’re here in Canada they feel safe and they can celebrate their roots—what they knew their country (to be) before maybe the war.”

The $20 from an admission ticket contributes to activities, programs and household items for the refugee families.

It started with food samplings from several different countries and then transitioned into the fashion show, a dance performance by children from Congo and music performances.

Members of YWCA Settlement Services read a poem before the fashion show for their World Refugee Day event on June 20, 2019. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

Hobden said she’s passionate about helping refugees because she’s appreciative she’s never had to escape war herself.

“I want to do what I can to help them a little bit to heal from what they’ve come (from) and to be able to make a new life here and to be happy in Canada and to be able to do things for their families so that they feel like this is home,” she said.

Settlement Services assists newcomers from the time they land in Prince Albert up until five years later, helping them learn English, with finances, medical needs, employment and housing.