Knitted Toques for Syrian Refugees

Date / Period
Toronto / Montreal
Object Type
Textiles and Uniforms
Movement 25 000 Tuques
Refugee and Migration

Since it began in 2011, a violent, destructive conflict in Syria has led millions of Syrians to seek asylum elsewhere, making them the largest component part of what the United Nations calls the most significant refugee crisis since the Second World War. In 2015-16 Canada opened its doors to 25,000 Syrian refugees, and the Canadian Red Cross joined a wide variety of individuals and organizations in welcoming them. 

More than one-third (10,790) of the Syrian refugees arrived in Montreal. At the Welcome Centre there, the Red Cross provided each newcomer with meals and snacks, accompanied families to temporary accommodation, and distributed winter clothing and footwear. This clothing included warm knitted hats supplied in partnership with Movement 25 000 Tuques, a citizen-driven spontaneous national knitting movement. Each knitted item was accompanied by a note welcoming the recipient to their new home. 

Red Cross volunteers in Quebec and British Columbia also supported new arrivals at temporary shelters.  When the newcomers were later distributed to their ultimate destinations across the country, Red Cross assistance shifted from welcome services to those targeted at helping refugee families adjust to their new communities. These ongoing local and family-specific efforts are unfolding in cooperation with government agencies and other community organizations.

Two specific Red Cross services, one brand-new and the other dating back to the Second World War (1939-45), are currently of particular use to Syrian newcomers in Canada. The first is the new Refugee Buddy App available in English, French, and Arabic. The app provides information for refugees on their new area of residence in Canada – such as transportation, traffic, and available Red Cross services – and relevant news. 

The second service is the historic Restoring Family Links program that uses neutral international Red Cross channels to try to re-establish contact between family members when it is broken by conflict, disaster, and migration. Family messages can be sent through the Red Cross – this is very useful when conflict has destroyed or interfered with other forms of communication. Family members elsewhere can also submit requests to try to trace loved ones who may have come to Canada.

Knitted Toques for Syrian Refugees

Support Knitted Toques for Syria 1
Support Knitted Toques for Syria 2
Support Knitted Toques for Syria 3
Support Knitted Toques for Syria 4
Support Knitted Toques for Syria 5
Montreal, QC, December 12, 2015 Photo: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

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