The Refugees Welcome Here Film Festival will take place this weekend. PHOTO: AHMED AKACHA/PEXELS

A film festival aimed at raising awareness of the global refugee crisis and helping create welcoming communities in Calgary is set to go ahead this weekend.

The Calgary Local Immigration Partnership (CLIP) organized the film festival to take place two days before World Refugee Day on June 20. 

Samantha Burdett, CLIP coordinator at City of Calgary, hopes the festival will support the organization’s efforts to get the public more involved in learning and taking action. 

“We want Calgary to be as welcoming as possible,” Burdett says. “I think when you create a welcoming space for one group, it becomes a more welcoming space for all groups.”

The festival consists of three events and the first is targeting children. Younger viewers will see the children’s adaptation of The Secret Marathon and short film Help Them Feel At Home, with the opportunity to ask questions after.

“With so many refugee children arriving in Calgary and they’re in our local schools, we want to equip kids with tools to make people feel welcome and understand what’s happening around the world, but in a way that’s not too scary for them,” Burdett says. 

In the afternoon, the festival will show the Canadian documentary Someone Like Me, which depicts life for LGBTQ+ refugees. Burdett says the film, which is already winning awards, is fitting for Pride Month. 

“It’s a great opportunity to show that film as well and talk about the unique challenges that face LGBTQ+ folks around the world and why Canada is such a safe haven for them,” Burdett says. 

Burdett says Canada’s refugee resettlement program is helping many displaced people. PHOTO: HERMES RIVERA/UNSPLASH

The third event is the showing of Canadian documentary The Secret Marathon, which tells the story of Afghan women who are fulfilling their dream of running a marathon. Filmmaker Kate McKenzie and refugees from Afghanistan will take part in a panel discussion after. 

Burdett says it’s important to support the festival due to the unprecedented number of refugees fleeing their home countries, particularly as a result of the crises in Afghanistan and Ukraine. 

“We’re so fortunate to have such a robust refugee resettlement program in Canada,” Burdett says. 

Burdett notes the United Nations recently announced that 100 million people are displaced globally. 

“So just to let people know that it may feel really overwhelming when they see the news, but there are really small practical steps that people can make in their own community and everyday life to make things welcoming.”

Calgarians can register for the no-cost, ticketed event on the Calgary Public Library website.

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