What does escape look like up close? Why do people choose Canada? And once they land in a safe country, what happens next?
In Flight and Freedom: Stories of Escape to Canada, Ratna Omidvar and Dana Wagner draw on 30 astonishing interviews with refugees to Canada to document their extraordinary journeys of flight, and to transform a misunderstood group into familiar, human stories.
Each of the 30 stories documents an escape that is sometimes harrowing and always remarkable. The narrative then turns to contemporary lives and careers, and the impact of refugees-turned-Canadians in the communities they call home, from Halifax to Vancouver.
Stories focus on Canadians who arrived as refugees from notable conflicts around the world, from the War of 1812 to the ongoing War in Afghanistan. Beyond conflict zones, other stories profile people from persecuted groups like gay men and women. At the time of escape, some refugees were children, others were parents, and others got out alone. Notwithstanding the diverse events of a story, the single overriding imperative for all characters can be summed up in one sentence: “We have to run.”
Closing the book is a question: Would they get in to Canada today? Peter Showler, lawyer and former chairperson of the federal Immigration and Refugee Board, answers the hypothetical question by analyzing how the cases would be handled under Canada’s new refugee system.
The book will be published in the fall of 2015 and we’re sharing a glimpse of the stories along the way.