Kiran Pal-Pross reflects on what a refugee family might discover if they were perusing our instagram

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This is a guest post from Kiran Pal-Pross to recap the Pemberton Refugee Resettlement Group’s weeklong takeover of our instagram account.

I would have liked to send a video to our refugee family, of the week leading up to our Barn Party fundraiser. It would have clips of the planning sessions, the organizations providing cheques, equipment and volunteers, and the 45 volunteers handing out flyers, preparing food, setting up on the big day, and performing to a huge crowd of supporters. There was a lot of love throughout the process.

If we could send it to our refugee family now, they would know how much support there is in Pemberton for their arrival and well-being. But we don’t know who our new neighbours will be until about three weeks before they arrive. They’re likely still waiting in a UN camp, unaware that they’re close to moving out.

Thanks for the opportunity to take over the Wellness Almanac Instagram for a week! I’m Kiran Pal-Pross, the other half of the takeover team and Logistics Director for the Pemberton Refugee Resettlement Group (prrg.ca). . My first experience with refugees was while travelling in northern India. The Tibetan people were friendly and cheerful. I admired them, knowing the trek over the mountains was risky and treacherous and being displaced from their ancestral home must have been confusing and emotional. How lucky they were, I thought, at been given a new beginning. . I wanted to support them in some way, and met a kind woman who spoke a little English. She invited me to sit on her blanket beside a parking lot and take a look at her jewellery for sale. It wasn’t made by her; it used to belong to her family and she had to sell it to buy food. . While we chatted about the different pieces, a man hopped on his motorcycle, parked next to us. He started his engine, pulled out slightly, quickly reversed so the back of his bike was facing the woman, and revved his engine, twice. Exhaust blew into her face from just a metre away. I jumped up to stop him but he zipped away, laughing. . I checked back to see if the woman was okay. She shrugged. . “I am a refugee,” she said, as if his actions had been justified somehow. . That experience haunted me, and seared my heart. When I returned to Canada I joined Students for a Free Tibet and marched alongside Tibetans in exile. I helped to coordinate two fundraisers and raise awareness of their cause. When I moved to Pemberton my friends lost their home due to a mudslide in 2015 so I helped, along with many, many generous folks, to organize a fundraiser to help them find a new place to live. I jumped at the chance to join the PRRG, a group of compassionate and inspired individuals and organizations who believe Pemberton has what it takes to help a refugee family feel at home away from home. . I would like to introduce you this week to a few people whose hearts have also been seared, and who perpetuate this community’s reputation of being a refuge in the valley. #WithRefugees

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We recently screened the film 19 Days, one of the National Film Board’s thousands of films available to view on nfb.ca. In the first 19 days of settling in Canada, the families and individuals seeking refuge in our country went through an overwhelming number of orientations, documentation meetings and counselling sessions. Some had health and mental health issues. All were experiencing culture shock. I wish the few people who have asked us why we’re bringing a family to town when there isn’t enough housing for them, could have seen that film, or one of the many others depicting the plight of refugees.

In Canada we have the ability to write to our Members of Parliament, to make our voices heard to our local representatives, and to fight for our rights and values. Many of the people seeking refuge in this country have not ever had those luxuries. I think we can make room in our community (and in our hearts) for a family who has undergone unimaginable hardships. We are a global community, and the way we treat the disadvantaged shows who we are.

If the Barn Party and the support this cause has received so far is an indication of our generous community, I’m proud to be a member.

The proceeds of the fundraiser, $10,747.76, will be split between the Pemberton Refugee Resettlement Group (PRRG) and the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research. That bumps up our total funds raised considerably toward our goal of $35,000.

Stay tuned for updates to the PRRG fundraising ‘thermometer’ on our Facebook page.

This is what our community coming together to help people in need looks like! We love you. -Kiran . #pembylife #helpinghand

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Community love and sharing is community wellness. We thank the Winds of Change for allowing us to share our journey.

Kiran Pal-Pross
PRRG Logistics Director

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