My trip and changing the narrative around refugees

With a little under two weeks until I step on the plane from YYZ to AMS I’m starting to get excited for the trip! I’ve been getting some of the basics sorted out including the purchase of my rail pass (8 days) in Switzerland. I also got lucky with a cool auction item that I won the other day from SkyAuction – I’ll be staying at the Hotel Waldhaus Sils in Sils Maria for a couple nights ($500 /night hotel) for about $100 a night so that was a nice win!

Also a couple of cool developments over the past couple of weeks… the UNHCR has announced for the first time five amazing and inspirational runners up for the Nansen Award who just narrowly missed out on winning. The actual winner will be announced on September 18th, so I’m very excited to see who it will be!

You can check out the runners up here if you’re interested: http://www.unhcr.org/runners-up.html

On the IKEA side of things I was also really thrilled to see the new brand spot for IKEA Canada released publicly this week, sharing the vision for “beautiful possibilities”. It’s a wonderful, moving and inspirational video that includes some footage of a young refugee girl. I’m so proud and inspired to work for a company that is willing to take a public stand and hopefully spark some conversation on these important issues. You can see the brand spot here here, and on TV’s in Canada everywhere over the next few weeks!

In addition to attending the reception and award ceremony for the UNHCR Nansen Awards I’ve also been invited to attend a discussion between the IKEA Foundation and UNHCR, and I will be leading a discussion around changing the narrative of refugees in countries, and how NGO’s can help with this. I suggested this topic because of some of things I’ve seen in the past year in the media, some of the rhetoric uses by politicians and some of the unfortunate events that have happened surrounding refugees.

One of the speakers at the reception will be Nujeen Mustafa, a refugee from Syria with cerebral palsy who travelled across the ocean to reach safety in Germany. Her picture has been used as a poster child for refugees and her story is inspiring. You can watch her TED talk here:

One of the phrases that leapt out at me from her talk was “few things in this world are worse than feeling like an unwelcome guest”.

I’m proud of the work that Canada has been doing surrounding refugees, and proud of the work that IKEA does to bring refugees mainstream. Over the next week I’ll be looking for more examples and discussion points I can use for my presentation to the team there.

So needless to say there’s lots to do before I leave, I’ve still got to do some shopping this week and then I’ve got to figure out how I’m gonna pack all this stuff!