With refugees in shorter supply, Twin Cities charity eyes Canada

Outside Fargo, N.D., representatives , led by Rita Chahal, left, executive director of the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council, receive baskets and gifts for refugees from Gail Harvey, far right, of ‘Don’t Cry. I’m Here.’ Courtesy of Gail Harvey.

A Twin Cities charity — “Don’t Cry, I’m Here” — welcomes refugees to the area by giving the children culturally sensitive dolls, “Buddy Bears”, and/or teen gift bags upon their arrival.

“All refugee children have been severely traumatized and really benefit from a doll or bear to hug, cry with, and talk to as they adjust to their new country and culture,” Gail Harvey, of Coon Rapids, writes on her charity’s Facebook page.

What’s happened recently, however, is a sign of the times. The group is refocusing and expanding its effort to Canada, because the number of refugees allowed into the United States is dropping so rapidly.

On Tuesday, the group met in Fargo, N.D., with Welcome Place, part of the Winnipeg Interfaith Immigration Council, to turn over 40 dolls, bears and gift bags. If the refugees don’t come to the Minnesota charity, the Minnesota charity will go to the refugees. Canada, in other words.

“They could’ve continued to give dolls to anyone else, and they chose us,” Rita Chahal, executive director of the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council, tells the Winnipeg Free Press. “As their neighbor, they know about our work.”

“It’s not a step back,” Harvey writes about the change at the charity, which had focused on the Twin Cities and St. Cloud.

We will not let any of our Minnesota refugee children go without. They will always be our priority. The United States is where we started…where most of us live….and where the refugee children really, really, really need to know they are “Welcome”….based on the message that refugees are hearing about the United States’ tight restraints to new arrivals.

So this is not a step back, it is a step forward. This is a step to grow, learn and adopt a caring relationship with our Canadian neighbors. This administration has also strained our relationship with the Canadian administration and we can do our small part to try to smoothen out some of that animosity.

The exchange in Fargo took place on World Kindness Day.

(h/t: Amanda Harvey)

Archive: Dangerous passage: Refugees in Minnesota risk death to reach Canada (MPR News)