Flight and Freedom

Stories of Escape to Canada

Ratna Omidvar , Dana Wagner

The global number of people currently displaced from their home country—more than 50 million—is higher than at any time since World War II. Yet in recent years Canada has deported, denied, and diverted countless refugees. Is Canada a safe haven for refugees or a closed door?

In Flight and Freedom, Ratna Omidvar and Dana Wagner present a collection of thirty astonishing interviews with refugees, their descendants, or their loved ones to document their extraordinary, and sometimes harrowing, journeys of flight. The stories span two centuries of refugee experiences in Canada: from the War of 1812—where an escaped slave and her infant daughter flee the United States to start a new life in Halifax—to the War in Afghanistan—where asylum seekers collide with state scrutiny and face the challenges of resettlement.



Ratna Omidvar



Introduction–Alan Broadbent

Who Is a Refugee?

1 Adeline Oliver, United States

2 Mampre Shirinian, Ottoman Empire (Turkey)

3 Loly Rico, El Salvador

4 Ken (Khanh) Do, Vietnam

5 Hodan Ali, Somalia

6 Claudio Duran, Chile

7 Rabbi Erwin Schild, Germany

8 Randy Singh, Guyana

9 Marguerite Nyandwi, Burundi

10 Andrew Hidi, Hungary

11 Sorpong Peou, Cambodia

12 Tarun, Sri Lanka

13 Yodit Negusse, Ethiopia

14 Bottles of Bouphaphanh, Laos

15 Zafar Iravan, Iran

16 Samnang It Cambodia

17 Marko, Bosnia and Herzegovina

18 Iren Hessami Koltermann, Iran

19 Anwar Arkani, Myanmar

20 Elvis, Namibia

21 Humaira, Afghanistan

22 Joseph, Sierra Leone

23 Christine, Rwanda

24 Mie Tha Lah, Myanmar

25 Max Farber, Poland

26 Shabnam, Afghanistan

27 Robi Botos, Hungary

28 Karim Teja, Uganda

29 Avtar Sandhu, India

30 Sabreen, Israel

Then and Now: Would They Get In Today?–Peter Showler

About the Authors

Ratna Omidvar was born in India. She moved to Iran in 1975 to start life there with her Iranian partner. In 1981 she and her family (including an infant daughter) fled Iran and found a new home in Canada. Her own experience of flight to freedom have been the foundation of her work. She has focused on articulating pathways to inclusion for immigrants and visible minorities in host societies, both in Canada and globally. Ratna is both a Member of the Order of Canada and Order of Ontario.

Dana Wagner is Senior Research Associate at the Global Diversity Exchange leading the Hire Immigrants and Flight and Freedom programs. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, the Globe and Mail, and The National Post. She blogs for The Huffington Post.

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