FLIGHT AND FREEDOM: STORIES OF ESCAPE TO CANADA
N THE ENTRANCE OF ISTANBUL’S
Rahmi M. Koç Museum is a large ceramic wall map of the region. My colleague Ratna Omidvar and I were visiting in 2008 as part of a meeting of the European foundation community where we were presenting our ﬂedgling Cities of Migration program. As we passed the map, Ratna paused and began to show me the route she and her husband Mehren followed as they ﬂed Iran. She traced their path through the north of Iran into Eastern Turkey recounting the danger and difﬁculty. As she talked a small group of people stopped to listen to her story, and then began to ask her questions and engage with her in her journey. It was then I realized the power of these stories of migration, their fascinating mix of personality, character, politics and geography. Ratna and I spoke about it after, and I think of that as the genesis of this book.Canadian governments have always been perplexed by refugees. In the 1920s, Frederick Blair, assistant deputy minister in the federal Depart-ment of Immigration and Colonization, said about Armenian refugees, “A refugee coming to our shores … naturally would have to be housed, fed and found employment or become permanently a public charge.”
And he went on to note that refugees would likely become “a permanent problem to Canada.”
1 Isabel Kaprielian-Churchill, “Armenian Refugees and Their Entry into Canada, 1919-30,”
Canadian Historical Review
, Vol. 71, Issue 1 (1990): 85.