REACH Edmonton

Stories of challenge and triumph were the focus of a panel discussion at REACH Edmonton’s seventh Annual General Meeting and Showcase Celebration June 8, which was attended by nearly 250 people.

In addition to a variety of stories and discussions around immigration, attendees also had the chance to hear spoken-word poetry from Edmonton’s Youth Poet Laureate Nasra Adem and Edmonton’s latest Poet Laureate Ahmed “Knowmadic” Ali.

After welcoming five new board members and hearing a keynote address about the immigrant experience in Edmonton by Judy Piercey and Ian Stewart, a panel discussion gave members of Edmonton’s immigrant communities an opportunity to tell their own stories about adjusting to their new lives in Canada.

REACH Immigrant and Refugee Initiative (RIRI) cultural navigators Joseph Luri, Mohammed Ayyash and Arlene Morales lent their experiences to the panel discussion. They talked about struggling with adjusting to a new culture, leaving children behind in their home countries and other challenges associated with immigration.

“The panel was great,” said one attendee. “Hearing from refugees who are impacted by REACH was valuable. They were real and authentic and powerful.”

This gave attendees a chance to hear about the immigrant experience directly from those who have lived through it.

“It’s important to tell their stories because by doing so, we put a human face to the survivors of crises that can seem far away,” said Jan Fox, executive director of REACH Edmonton. “When we hear the stories of immigrants who share the same hopes and dreams as all Canadians, we are working toward better understanding each other.”