SFU students create colouring book to help refugees feel at home

posted on November 25, 2019

By CBC News |

Last January, Renmart Buhay, a student at Simon Fraser University joined students from different faculties in an interdisciplinary program called Health Change Lab, which is aimed at addressing a social or environmental problem in Surrey.

Buhay teamed up with three other students, Alanah Lam, Jordon Fernandez and Adrian Genge, to focus on the social determinants of health for refugees arriving in the city. The students were interested in how to create a sense of belonging, identity, and well-being for someone entering a new culture.

They students worked with existing refugee resources, refugee hosts, and refugees themselves to gain knowledge about the experience. Finally, they came up with the idea of creating a colouring book to help refugees.

“A colouring book was definitely not the first thing that came to mind,” says Lam, “[At first,] everybody was looking for more high tech and more complicated solutions to these problems.”

But eventually they concluded the resource had to be accessible regardless of the person’s access to technology.

The students noted a colouring book would be a fun and accessible medium to provide information. It was also an opportunity to include refugee representation in the story.

The story, written in both English and Arabic, follows three main characters. Two are young Syrian refugees, Leila and Amir, who come to Canada in the first scene.

The third character is Anna, a Canadian host who shows the children around Surrey.

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