Forced Migration, Repatriation And Resettlement At The Reach

By November 6, 2014Arts/Culture

Forced Migration, Repatriation and Resettlement are topics at The Reach’s tour and conversation event

Submitted. With the popularity of the current, memories-evoking By Land and Sea (Prospect and Refuge) exhibition, The Reach Gallery Museum Abbotsford will engage the public in a tour with the artist, followed by a conversation on forced migration, relocation, refugee repatriation and resettlement.

Pictured at right: Penner Bancroft exhibition at The Reach

On Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 1pm, artist Marian Penner Bancroft will walk people through her exhibition, then open a dialogue with herself and panelists: Jennifer Mpungu, refugee program coordinator, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) and resettled Ethiopian refugee, Direz Meliki.

Penner Bancroft’s By Land and Sea exhibition and story will not only resonate with those of Mennonite roots, but people from across the Valley and beyond, since it investigates a family history and relationship to landscape out of forced migration and relocation. The multi-award winning Vancouver-based, Fraser Valley born artist, charts the journeys of her father’s Mennonite family from what is now the Ukraine, and her mother’s Presbyterian farm family from northern Scotland. One of her art pieces is the famous 700 year old oak tree in Chortitza, the history making site of the first Mennonite gathering in Southern Russia in 1789, and a seedling from this tree is currently growing on the west lawn of The Reach Gallery Museum, 32388 Veterans Way.

Jennifer Mpungu of MCC, will on November 8th, speak about the current refugee policy in Canada and how our country has responded to its international obligations towards refugees in the face of this escalating crisis across the world. MCC churches have been augmenting the work of the government to resettle refugees, with congregation volunteers putting in time and money to take care of resettled refugees for the first twelve months after they arrive in Canada. This is done through the private sponsorship program.

Explains Mpungu, “Unfortunately many refugees who are resettled though the government assisted program do not have the benefit of such a caring community. The long term outcomes of this group of resettled refugees are often extremely hopeless and it takes many years before they can get on their feet.”

“The ideal solution for most refugees is repatriation – the resettling back to their country of origin, however for many that’s not an option. The other solution is for the refugee to create a new life in their country of asylum. If neither is possible, refugees may be resettled to a third country, like Canada, the U.S., or many others, where they face difficulty in adjusting to a new culture and often find their education and work experience less valued.

Direz Meliki, the resettled refugee from Ethiopia, will share how it feels to walk in his shoes as a government assisted refugee resettled to Canada. For Meliki, the promise of a country where he would contribute his intellect and creativity hit a wall as soon as he landed here. His is a story of survival and resilience trying to build community, make a living and dealing with finding his way, in more ways than one; he’s blind.

The November 8th – 1pm Exhibition Tour and Conversation event with Penner Bancroft, Mpungu and Meliki at The Reach, followed by refreshments, is FREE to the public, thanks to the partnership support of Mennonite Studies at the University Fraser of the Valley and MCC. To register in advance, and for more information go to:

700 year-old oak tree at Chortitza by Marian Penner Bancroft

700 year-old oak tree at Chortitza by Marian Penner Bancroft

About The Reach
The Reach is a registered charity and “Class A” facility in the Fraser Valley that is operated by a small staff team with the assistance of a Board of Directors and 100+ fabulous volunteers. With your support, we will continue to showcase the best in the visual arts by local and international artists, preserve and share the stories of our rich and diverse cultural heritage, provide engaging quality education programming for all ages and offer FREE admission to exhibitions and a wide variety of other multidisciplinary cultural events.

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