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A Warm Welcome for Syrian Refugees – what the arts have to offer


December 2, 2015

Akoulina Connell, Executive Director, artsnb
1 December, 2015

What can arts and culture do to make a difference in welcoming Syrian refugees to New Brunswick? What can we do at the local level – something anyone in New Brunswick with a creative itch, tick, or all the way up to a professional practice can contribute? Plenty, that’s what.

We know that here in Fredericton, we’re expecting families from Syria this month, and into the New Year. The damp cold of a Maritime winter is something we are very familiar with. So many New Brunswickers can knit, crochet, weave, felt, etc. We know how to use our hands to warm body and soul. It’s a long tradition, and it’s time to share it!

At the community level, something amazing is happening.

Earlier this week, we walked down the street and approached Trish Campbell at Yarns on York; they’re offering a 20% discount to those who are up for knitting hats, mittens, scarves, sweaters, blankets, throws… and baby booties. You name it! We walked over to the Fredericton Library and talked to Christine Nash and Julie Stewart. They host two knitting groups regularly, and are keen to host a knit-in as part of the community effort. The New Brunswick Craft Council is on board with spreading the message to its network of Fine Craft professionals. The Multicultural Association of Fredericton (MCAF) is on board, too – and looking for donations of knitting needles and yarn so that recent immigrants can also take part in welcoming the newest arrivals. The Atlantic Institute on Aging will also spread the word! If there are other interested groups, we would be happy to add you!

The arts community is a buzzing hive right now. Everyone is looking at the resources they have and evaluating what they have to offer and how they can offer it – in our theatre spaces, music halls, dance studios, art centers. I have a feeling that the public value of arts and culture is about to demonstrate itself, big time, at a grass roots level.


A Warm Welcome poster