Flight and Freedom: Stories of Escape to Canada

Ratna Omidvar and Dana Wagner. Between the Lines (Brunswick Books, dist.), $29.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-77113-229-9
Omidvar and Wagner research and interview refugees who have fled to Canada from all over the world, gathering their stories into a poignant, beautiful book of hardship and hope. The authors, both academics who have worked extensively on migration issues, send readers on journey after journey, following an enslaved family escaping the United States during the War of 1812, a Hutu woman running from the ethnic violence in Burundi, a Bedouin girl fleeing from her family and certain death, and many more. This book cannot be read quickly, as each story needs time to be processed. It’s heavy and painful, but it’s an important read. At a time when the authors say tighter Canadian policies “have not slammed the door shut on refugees but [have] certainly wedged the door partly closed,” the book powerfully makes the case that refugees and their stories are an essential part of Canada’s identity and strength as a country where many people are willing to risk everything for a better life, and many more are willing to help others. The resilience of the refugees is inspirational, as is the generosity of ordinary Canadians in their efforts to help them. Readers familiar with refugee experiences will appreciate the brave stories being told. Those who aren’t will gain a deeper understanding, empathy and appreciation of who refugees are and what they bring to countries such as Canada. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 10/17/2016
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