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Former Kosovo Refugee Discusses Finding Safety in Canada

An exhibition at Pier 21 of the Canadian Museum of Immigration marks the 25th anniversary of the arrival of refugees fleeing war in Kosovo to Canadian shores.

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Jerry West, from Information Morning, visited the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 to explore an exhibition documenting Operation Parasol. He spoke with Jan Raska, the exhibition’s curator, and with Arta Rexhepi, who arrived in this country as a Kosovar refugee at 13.

Upon their arrival in Canada, Rexhepi and her 11-year-old brother continued to sleep fully dressed. They did the same in Kosovo, knowing they could have to flee at any moment.

She says it took them two weeks to feel comfortable enough to put on pajamas again, knowing they wouldn’t be bombed.

Jan Raska, acting research director at Pier 21, explained that the exhibition showcases photos of Kosovar families seeking safe refuge in another country.

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The photos reflect the refugees’ everyday life in the time leading up to their departure.

Raska said the exhibition also illustrates the refugees’ lives when they were resettled in camps, called sustaining sites, in Canada.

“I think it speaks to Canada’s commitment to international humanitarianism,” he said. “And certainly, Operation Parasol speaks to how the Canadian government and society contribute to sudden crises happening on the other side of the world.”

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