Roots on Six

Roots on Six

For the past 15 years, Edmonton has had a presence at City Hall organized by the settlement community on June 20th, the date designated as World Refugee Day. We took time to listen to stories of people who came to Canada as refugees -- people fleeing persecution or war who have found safety in Canada and celebrated the diversity of culture and contribution to our Edmonton community.  

Since 2016, when many Syrian refugees joined our community, there was a realization that the Indigenous community needed to be part of this day, and that, in fact, it is a day that precedes Indigenous Peoples Day.  We recognized the need to invite the newcomer and Indigenous communities together to hear the stories, and build good relationships or Wahkohtowin, in Cree.

The partner organizers for the 2023 UN World Refugee Day and Indigenous People's Day event, is Roots on Six, hosted by Islamic Family, and includes Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers, Catholic Social Services, Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society and Mennonite Church Alberta.  MCA is involved through my work as Bridge Builder.

For the past many years, I have been tasked with giving the refugee update through data and stories gleaned from UNHCR, MCC, and local sources.  It was my honor speak again this year, as MCA's Bridge Building Facilitator.  

The event also included a smudge and prayer from an Indigenous elder, an indigenous drummer and singer who shared a song about treaty, stories from a Palestinian-Syrian refugee, a Metis researcher on working to understand the prison experience of indigenous people, especially when they leave the prison institution, and music from people whose origins are Zimbabwe and Cameroon.  We also had a spoken word poem from a second generation immigrant sharing that perspective of identity in Canada.

I was grateful for the Mennonite presence who joined this event, and thank you Tim for taking the photo!  The event was live  streamed is available to watch on the IFSSA youtube channel. For even more visit