‘No one chooses to be a refugee’: Manitoba refugees share stories, tackle misconceptions

May 25, 2017

By CBC News |

People who now call Manitoba home but came to Canada as refugees shared their stories in Winnipeg on Tuesday night to expand the conversation around the recent increase in refugee claimants and asylum seekers.

Louise Simbandumwe, a volunteer with Amnesty International, said the event was held to “talk about the need to ensure that we have a compassionate and human rights-based response.”

Refugee Claimants: The stories behind the headlines was an event put on by Amnesty International Winnipeg at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba offices on Isabel Street.

Simbandumwe said it’s important to share the stories of people who have gone through hardship to find safety and security in Canada.

She became a refugee in 1972 after family members were killed in massacres in Burundi, a country in East Africa bordered by Rwanda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo. She was with her parents in India at the time, and they learned they wouldn’t be able to return home because their lives were at risk.

Wearing a black shirt with clear white text that said “human rights extremist,” Simbandumwe spoke about how an increase in refugee claimants and asylum seekers has generated a lot of discussion and debate.

“But there’s also a lot of information that is floating around that’s simply false or incorrect, and some people are responding with fear and hostility,” she said.

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