International poets are helping Syrian refugees feel more at home in Saskatoon, all while raising money to support them.
Refugees Welcome Multicultural Poetry night features the works and experiences of seven poets who are themselves immigrants, refugees or First Nations Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Fédération des Francophones de Saskatoon.
“We want to make sure the community is welcoming to (refugees) and so that (locals) understand what refugees are going to be going through so we don’t have judgment or stereotypes from the community,” organizer Renata Ćosić said.
Ćosić was 13 when she came to Canada in 1996 as a refugee from Bosnia who lived in Croatia for four years. She said other artists were either born in or have refugee parents from Serbia, Iraq, Bahamas, Brazil and Pakistan.
“It’s kind of like a personal story and hopefully people who come will get an idea of what it’s like to be new in a country and some of the struggles,” she said.
Poet Ljuban Klobucar knows how difficult it is to flee your home and settle in a new country. The refugee from the former Yugoslavia fled home with his young family to start a new life in Saskatoon in 2000.
When he heard Syrian refugees were coming to Saskatoon, he wanted to help and approached Ćosić about hosting a fundraiser.
He knew he wanted the event to feature poetry because of how it helped him get through both good and tough times in his life and he hopes poets share their perspectives of “when war was around, we were losing our childhood, our country, our houses, and our way of life.”
“Through our poetry, we’re going to build a bridge for many Canadians to understand what’s going on with the Syrian refugees who are coming to Saskatoon,” he said.
Since his mother was born in Canada, Klobucar had smiling relatives to welcome him at the airport, but he knows many refugees have no one.
“I believe many of the refugees are missing smiles in their lives so I hope with this event we are going to erase those (bad) memories,” he said.
The event costs $5 and includes entertainment, a silent auction and a 50/50 draw. All the money raised will go to the refugee programs and services offered by the Saskatoon Refugee Coalition and the International Women of Saskatoon, groups that are not funded by the federal government for refugee specific programming.