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World Refugee Day - June 20th

Congrégation de Notre-Dame

To mark World Refugee Day, provide food for thought and inspire our prayers, sisters of the Congrégation de Notre-Dame share their experiences with refugee families.

June 20 - World Refugee Day

Over sixty million human beings are forced to flee their homes and countries in fear for their lives because of their race, language, religion, nationality, gender and, political opinion. For an increasing number, the climate crisis drives their efforts to escape excruciating poverty, lack of water and land.

On this World Refugee Day, Sister Maura McGrath, an environmental activist and member of the board of Action Réfugiés Montréal explains, through the group’s inspiring work with a particular family, how everything (and everyone) is interconnected.

“Joseph fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo with his wife Marie and their six young children. Because of the urgency of the situation, Marie’s passport was not renewed. When they arrived at Trudeau airport (Montreal), Joseph and Marie requested refugee status for themselves and their six children. Canada Customs and Immigration sent Marie to the Laval Detention Centre with their infant who was still nursing. Joseph and their five other children were sent to the YMCA. Currently, Action Refugiés staff members are desperately trying to reunite the family. They believe that, like most of those seeking refuge, if given the opportunity, they will undoubtedly make positive contributions to Quebec’s and Canada’s very fabric.’’

Maura McGrath, CND

In 2016, the Chofu convent in Tokyo offered shelter to a Syrian mother and her children. While at first, living with people of a different culture, language and religion was challenging, it made us more familiar with the refugee issue. During the six months that the family was in our care, the convent sisters, Margarita kindergarten next door, and Chofu Church offered them help and support. Since then, Sister Sueko Shimazaki has remained present by teaching them Japanese, how to use public transit, and do their shopping. Today, the family lives in Chiba prefecture. However, because they have not yet been able to receive a refugee status, it has become more challenging to support them.

Sachiko Date, CND



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