African Refugees: A Panel Highlighting a Forgotten and Excluded People

February 23, 2016

Juliane Okot Bitek, Josiane Anthony, Samson Nashon, & Daniel Tseghay

Tuesday, February 23, 7:00PM–9:00PM, Room 320, Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue, 580 W. Hastings St.

Co-sponsored by SFU's School for International Studies &

The refugee crisis continues to unfold. Tens of thousands of people are crossing the Mediterranean, or reaching Europe by land in the Middle East. We’ve seen the images of people drowning in the sea, dying of dehydration in the desert, held in immigration detention in Libya and tortured for ransom. 

This isn't a new crisis, of course, but it's taken a firmer place in the public consciousness in recent months. And this has led to some encouraging acts of solidarity from community groups and, in limited forms, by governments themselves. While many states are certainly closing their doors, erecting borders, and creating conditions which force people to take such dangerous routes in the first place, many communities and individuals have shown solidarity. People are opening their doors, donating money, and pushing their governments to accept refugees.

But we’ve also noticed something missing. At some point, the refugee crisis highlighted some groups of people and erased Africans.

What tangible effect does this have on refugees from countries like Eritrea, South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, and Burundi? How should we respond as communities in solidarity with all refugees?

This will be a roundtable event where speakers from various backgrounds will explore the different aspects of this crisis with a focus on African refugees.


Juliane Okot Bitek is a poet, a Liu Scholar and PhD Candidate at the Interdicisplinary Department at UBC. Her research interest focusses on identity and forgetting while her poetry is mostly just fun. Except for her 100 Days (University of Alberta Press) which is a collection of a hundred poems that question the place for haunted voices after the Rwanda Genocide.

Josiane Anthony is a Togo-born, Refugee-bred who now resides on Coast Salish Territory. She is an aspiring lawyer who is currently studying sociology with an interest in refugee and immigration issues. She is a program coordinator leading refugee youth programs for Immigrant Services Society and the Vancouver Foundation's Youth Advisory Team. She has served as National Youth Arts Coordinator for the Michaelle Jean Foundation and as creator and evaluator of BC Youth Toolkit for the Ministry of Children and Family Development. She is also the co-founder of the Black Before February arts collective and event, co-editor of From the Root zine, and a mentor on the 2plus10 - a Surrey Youth Gang Exit Project, Building Creative production.

Samson Nashon is a science educator. His research focuses on ways of teaching and learning. His area of specialization focuses on students’ alternative understandings that have roots in cultural backgrounds and curricula, and are accommodative of students with varying degrees of abilities. 

Daniel Tseghay is an Eritrean writer and organizer.