Refugees share experiences in virtual Pump House series

The PumpHouse museum, located at 23 Ontario Street. Image via the PumpHouse Museum Facebook page.

The PumpHouse Museum is holding a series of free, virtual events this fall that will highlight the stories of local residents who arrived in Canada as refugees. These free events complement the exhibition, Refuge Canada, on view at the PumpHouse now until mid-November.

Refugees Welcome: Refuge Canada Speaker Series invites residents to listen to people who have experienced firsthand what it is to be a refugee, according to a release from the City of Kingston.

The events also encourage people to participate through poetry, art and community discussion to deepen their understanding of the global refugee crisis with a Kingston focus, the city said. The speaker series consists of three virtual events on Sept. 16, 23 and Oct. 14. Use the links below to register to attend these online events.

Session 1: Sept. 16, 7 to 9 p.m. with Jamal Saaed and Jason Heroux:

Hear from local author, Jamal Saaed as he shares the story of the journey that brought him to Canada from Syria. Following Jamal’s presentation, join current Kingston Poet Laureate, Jason Heroux, for a reflective poetry exercise designed to help us look inward and celebrate our own diversity.

Session 2: Sept. 23, 7 to 9 p.m. with Houssam Alloum and Virginia Jahyu:

Art is a powerful tool. Use it to express yourself or to share a message calling for change. This session will feature local artist, Houssam Alloum, who was a recent recipient of the Kingston Prize for his painting, “Joyce.” Houssam will reflect on how art has been a part of his journey as a refugee. Following Houssam’s talk, art instructor Virginia Jahyu will help audience members create an art piece that they can use to explore and share expressions of social justice.

Session 3: Oct. 14, 7 to 9 p.m., Live Question and Answer:

How can a group of people or an organization privately sponsor a refugee family? How can you help refugees locally? Join this session to hear more about sponsorship firsthand. This event will also feature a panel of community professionals who work directly with refugees. They will be available to answer questions and share information about ways individuals can help refugees at a local level.

Registration is now open for all three virtual events online or by calling the PumpHouse Museum at 613-544-7867. Registration is free, but attendees are encouraged to donate to an organization that supports refugees.

Created by the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 and supported by TD Bank Group, the Refuge Canada exhibition explores the themes of life before, fear, displacement, refuge, and life in Canada as newcomers, according to the release. Refuge Canada provides the context for Canada’s place in the global refugee crisis and brings to light the challenges faced by refugees in Canada.

The PumpHouse Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for private, pre-booked, small group, guided 45-minute tours and educational programs with COVID-19 protocols in place. Learn more on their website:

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