SSHRCImpact Award Ceremony Album

I hear a knock on my door. I check through the peephole.

It is my neighbor, the Syrian terrorist.

Well –I guess this refugee is probably a terrorist. He looks exactly like the terrorists we read so much about on social media, right?

Should I open my door?

Depuis 2015 presque tous les Canadiens ont été témoins des attaques terroristes et des agressions sexuelles qui se sont produites en Europe et ici même au Canada à travers les médias sociaux.

Plusieurs ont réagi en ligne avec un dangereux discours de peur masqué par de la haine et de la colère.

Être réfugié — surtout réfugié musulman— devenait synonyme de terroriste ou de violeur.

Les réactions de l’extrême droite qu’on voit dans les rues et sur les médias sociaux en sont des exemples.

Au 29 janvier 2017, le Canada avait accueilli 40081 réfugiés syriens.

En tant que Canadiens, nos jeunes devraient ouvrir leurs portes et accueillir ces nouveaux arrivants malgré les messages haineux et effrayants partagés en ligne malgré la recherche sur les jeunes et les médias sociaux qui considère nos jeunes comme des victimes, facilement manipulés par les médias et malgré des sondages récents qui affirment qu’on n’est pas si exceptionnel qu’on le croit en terme d’inclusion

Through my SSHRC funded research I did more than one hundred hours of in-depth interviews with Canadian youth between 16 and 24 years old to understand how they viewed their role in the integration and the inclusion of refugees in a context where the image of refugees was deeply influenced by social media and fake news.

My participants’ first reaction was: We have no role to play. Some people are controlled by islamophobia, racism and fear. We can do nothing to change that.

But, through our discussions, the young participants had this AHA moment.

They suddenly realized that not only they could control how social media influenced them but also that they had a role to play in shaping the image that was shared online of the refugee presence here in Canada.

Based on the results of my research, once we engage in IN-DEPTH dialogues with our youth and we value their voices they cease being victims.

They become critical of media content.

They develop empathy towards both refugees and the people who reject newcomers, and they become agents of change, ready to assume a leadership role in the inclusion and the integration of all Canadians and our future Canadians.

Our next step is to mobilize this knowledge so it can be adopted in our schools, community centers and any context where Canadians and future Canadians meet.

So, let’s trust, equip, and empower our youth to make us exceptional again!

 

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