Tag: Canada

“Seeing Refugees”: Using Old Photographs to Gain New Perspectives on Refugees, Past and Present

Cross-Posted with ActiveHistory.ca

by Sonya de Laat

In the summer of 2018 an unprecedented number of people claiming to be refugees crossed into Canada at unofficial border points. Many Canadians learned of these events through photographs and other visual media circulating through the popular commercial press. Responding to such images, public reaction in Canada has been mixed. While some people support actions aimed at helping these families and individuals, others have sensationalized the situation by labelling it a “crisis” and calling border crossers as “illegals” or “cue jumpers.” Continue reading

Armenian Refugees & the United Church of Canada

Envisioning Gratitude: Armenian Orphans in Canada

by Sandrine Murray


The Armenian Genocide was the result of the Ottoman government’s destruction of 1.5 million Armenians, most of them citizens within the empire. This was during and after the First World War. Most academics place the beginning of the genocide in 1915, though there are various accounts of violence against the Christian minority in the Ottoman empire before then. The Armenian Genocide is often seen as the first modern genocide, though to this day the term has been rejected by Turkey to describe what happened. Continue reading

Announcing Starving Ukraine: the Holodomor and Canada’s Response by Serge Cipko


“[Until now] there has been no comprehensive study of the Canadian reaction to the famine… a major contribution.” – Roman Serbyn, editor of Famine in Ukraine, 1932-1933

In 1932-33, a famine–the Holodomor (“extermination by hunger”)–raged through Ukraine, killing millions. Although the Soviet government denied it, news about the catastrophe got out. Canadians came to learn about the famine from many sources, though the reports could be contradictory.

Through an extensive analysis of newspapers, political speeches, and protests, Starving Ukraine examines both Canada’s reporting of the famine and the country’s response. In doing so, Serge Cipko alludes to how public domestic reaction to crises impacts how those events play out on the world stage. Continue reading

Oxfam Canada and Relief to East Timor, 1975-76

by David Webster

When does the humanitarian impulse to provide aid and relief contribute to activism to promote human rights? When does it prompt avoidance of activism in favour of quietly enduring access to places and people in need?

This is one of the questions I am trying to answer in current research on relations between Canada and East Timor. Under Indonesian military occupation from 1975 to 1999, Canadian aid agencies tended to shy away from criticizing Indonesian actions in order to make sure they could deliver aid supplies. Humanitarian impulses dictated a quiet stance on human rights from a range of Canadian NGOs.  But there was an early exception, in the work of Oxfam Canada.

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