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“I feel very bad. We’re on their land,” she says in a soft voice, speaking in downtown Vancouver. Jouny expresses herself easily in English, despite missing school for most of her teens because of the war

Fadia Jouny, a 19-year-old Syrian refugee, has recently come back from Winnipeg where she gave a passionate presentation about First Nations, and why refugees need to learn more about their history.

Since arriving in Canada in 2015, Jouny has been busy learning not just the English language, but also about Canadian culture, and Indigenous colonization, missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Jouny says fellow refugees are occasionally surprised by her interest in this topic. Why do you care about what First Nations went through? some ask her. The experience of displacement makes her feel close to them, she says.

“I feel I am the same as them, in some way,” she reflects. “The First Nations were moved from their land. I understand what that is like.”

“When I talk to refugees about First Nations, they say, 'Oh, that was all in the past.' But I tell them, no, it’s not just the past," Jouny says. "Still, many people don’t have fresh drinking water. Their women go missing, and we don’t talk about that.”


The war in Syria has left her family, in some sense, as people without a country.

"I want to talk about refugees so people will understand. We didn't choose to be refugees. It was just for survival," she says.
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Responses to ""I am eternally grateful": Syrian refugee in Canada says "We are in First Nations land""

  1. I argue that the law that forces new Canadians to swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen is really an oath of allegiance to the doctrine of discovery. I argue that the oath creates unnecessary division between new Citizens and indigenous peoples. I also argue it contravenes the Charter and has many other problems. McMahon, Thomas L., Reconcile this: Canada's Oath to the Queen, the Doctrine of Discovery, Indigenous Peoples, New Canadians and Freedom of Expression (March 6, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2886896

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