2011 Canadian Tour Dates

Halifax, Day 2

As part of the extended program following the Refugee Camp in the Heart of the City exhibit MSF has been doing screenings of Living in Emergency, a documentary centred on MSF and the challenges facing the people doing this difficult work.  The film was nominated for best documentary at the 2009 Academy Awards. 

Last night I had the pleasure of introducing the film to about 45 Haligonians who are interested in MSF. Many of those who came are also thinking about working with MSF in the field. After introducing the film I sat in the back and was intrigued to watch the reactions of people as the images and stories unfolded.  There were moments of communal laughter, intertwined with gasps of dismay during some of the more difficult moments in the film. Watching people shift in their seats during images of surgery or distress on the screen was a moving experience from where I sat.  On the whole it was interesting to see the emotions evoked by the film and what the audience identified with through the different personalities. 

The film was followed by a question period where Owen Campbell and I answered questions from the audience about MSF and about our personal experiences in the field.  Questions ranged from living conditions while on mission to more technical questions about medical guidelines and protocols. 

In the end I think people appreciated the film and left having learned more about field work when they walked out than they probably thought they would when they walked in, at least I hope they did. 

 (Matt Calvert, National Association Coordinator)


Some examples of the media coverage we received in Halifax:

Watch a report on CBC Nova Scotia about the refugee camp exhibit

Watch a report on Global Maritimes Evening News. Report starts at 6.45 minutes.

Listen to a podcast on the CBC Nova Scotia Informorning

Article in Metronews Halifax



 Reflections of one of our guides:

Humanitarian aid is everyone’s business.  The more I facilitate RCIC tours the more I learn- mostly from people who I provide the tours to.  At the beginning of the tour I usually ask the participants if they have done any travelling to gage who I am presenting to, and to get people thinking outside of our Canadian assumptions.  People typically mention their holiday vacation location which is still appreciated, but vastly different from the travel experience of working with refugees. The question is also full of bias since those who travel typically have enough money to do so, rather than a genuine interest of what happens outside of Canada.

A few times I have had a few surprises with what people share with me during the tour. In the past I have discussed refugee health with people who live on the street of the Canadian city we are touring in, I have done the tour with people who have lived in refugee camps themselves, and I’m sure there are many other “types” who listened silently as I taught them what they already knew too well. One young woman interrupted me after looking at one of the posters.  She said “that’s not what people look like in Nigeria- I’m from Nigeria”. True! What would we as Canadians think if outsiders started to present Canada with only its violations to basic human rights? 


 One theme that erupted among this young group was the concept of poverty-gap: Having a very rich population of people at the top of the pyramid with large base of the population being poor.  This also rings-true to my experience from working in developing countries. It is strange being able to access the luxuries I am used to here in Canada while others spend their day trying to find clean water. When showing pictures of people in inhuman situations, should the country or location matter? Humanitarian aid looks at people as a human being before any other affiliation.

The testimonials at the end of the refugee camp exhibit can be put to good use to identify the individual complexities that are not seen in pictures or stereotypes.  Without knowing the whole stories we run the risk of misunderstanding the true scope of the situation and perhaps blame the victim for not being able to live up to the standard of living that is easily acquired by the privileged population.

(By Kevin Barlow)

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