Multicultural Association of Fredericton Inc. Youth Program:
The immigrant and refugee youth participating in this film production are from Korea, Colombia, Venezuela, Nigeria, Algeria, Kenya and Nepal. They are all residents of Fredericton N.-B and part of the Multicultural Association of Fredericton’s Youth programming. Some of the youth have immigrated more recently than others but each of them brings a unique perspective on debunking myths and stereotypes around immigrant and refugee youth in Canada.
The story of WelcoME:
The CCR Youth Network Speak Up challenge brought together newcomer immigrant and refugee youth through the Multicultural Association of Fredericton (MCAF) to speak out and debunk myths about newcomer youth in Canada. The group decided that making a short film would be the best way to get their message across to other Canadians and newcomer youth from coast to coast. Each youth saw the project as an opportunity to express what being a newcomer youth in Canada feels like to them. It was also an opportunity to talk about how we can all avoid stereotyping by getting to know one another for who we are as individuals, not as representations of a larger group based on country of origin, race, religion, or immigration status.
Following group discussions and brainstorm sessions on what the film could be about and how to present it (from story to structure, and style), MCAF got in touch with the NB film co-op and local producers to turn these ideas into actual footage. The film is in New Brunswick’s two official languages, with Francophone newcomer youth attending École Sainte-Anne and English speaking newcomers from Fredericton High School. Participants were interviewed in their respective school settings, over a one day shooting.
Together we produced a community educational awareness tool sharing the experiences of immigrant and refugee youth from diverse communities settling in Anglophone and minority Francophone communities. Newcomer youth were offered a space to share their experiences, to express their feelings, their cultural values, their perspectives and their suggestions.
The film will be an important toolfor the MCAF Diversity and Inclusion in Schools educational activities. Last year, MCAF facilitated 40 diversity and inclusion sessions for 4,818 students in grades K to 12. Through the Film, the voices of immigrant and refugee youth in Fredericton can be heard in many settings, reaching the maximum audience without youth missing excessive amounts of their own school time.
DVDs will be distributed to the English and French school districts and shared with other youth service providing agencies in New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada. The film will also be available online (youtube.com, school websites and MCAF’s website).
MCAF is in the process of producing a handout in collaboration with teachers, which will include discussion guides based on the DVD to encourage further reflection by the users, a resource list and websites of organizations and groups across the country working with newcomer youth.
This project was a wonderful learning experience for the youth, especially those that had never been exposed to this type of dialogue in an open group setting. Many of the students had never had the opportunity to talk about stereotypes or their immigration experience in front of their peers before, and so this was a very empowering and positive learning experience for the participants.