Social media used to organize aid for Syrian refugees in Canada

HALIFAX -- Val Macdonald says it only took a few minutes before a little red notification popped up on her Facebook page after posting about donations for a Syrian refugee family.

See Full Article

The privately-sponsored refugees arrived in British Columbia's Comox Valley in October, but they needed some essential items.

Macdonald, who helps run the Syrian Refugee Support Committee Facebook page, said she posted about the family of four needing diapers and within days, they had enough diapers to last three months.

She said many donations, everything from winter boots to AppleTV, have come from complete strangers in their community of roughly 63,000 people. Social media also bolstered their efforts to raise about $40,000, she said.

"Social media allows you to connect with people quickly," said Macdonald, who has worked in the immigration sector for more than 25 years. "It's creating a whole new ball game."

Giles Crouch, managing partner at Thistlewood digital research firm in Halifax, says social media is playing a key role in community organizing as 25,000 refugees arrive in Canada over the next few months.

"It allows for coordination that we've never had before," said Crouch in a recent interview.

"It's a much faster way to organize, to have consistent messaging amongst groups and to share on a national and international basis. It's almost zero cost and makes it very easy to coordinate. Without social media, just think, you'd have to be mailing out letters, making phone calls and sending faxes."

Even the federal government is using social media to mobilize. The Immigration Department has been encouraging people to use the hashtag .WelcomeRefugees.

Peter Goodspeed, a spokesman for the Toronto-based Lifeline Syria, said their 370 sponsorship groups are forming and devising plans through social media.

"Social media is allowing us to organize in a way that we've never been able to before," said Goodspeed, whose organization assists refugee sponsorship groups in the Toronto area. "It's playing a big role."

Crouch also said a majority of Canadians who have posted comments on social media about Syrian refugees are supportive of their arrival in Canada.

Crouch said based on his company's analysis --which included a sample of Twitter feeds, public Facebook posts and blog posts -- more than 70 per cent of those who have posted comments online have expressed supportive sentiments about Syrian refugees coming to Canada.

Crouch said memes are also playing a massive role in the online conversation about refugees. He said memes, images or videos that often contain humorous phrases, help shape public opinion.

"Memes communicate a complex message often very quickly," said Crouch, adding that memes about Syrian refugees have been mostly positive.

"If someone distills a message down into a few sentences, or a few words, because these media are highly visual, it enables them to get out there more so than just the words."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Putin leads Russia to increase clout in the Middle East

    World News CTV News
    MOSCOW - When Russia launched a military campaign in Syria two years ago, President Vladimir Putin sought to save his ally from imminent collapse and break Russia's international isolation over a crisis in Ukraine. He achieved that and more, emerging as a key stakeholder in the Middle East who has brokered deals with many of its key players - from Iran to Saudi Arabia to Turkey and Israel. Source
  • Philippines votes to extend martial law

    World News CTV News
    MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Congress voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to approve President Rodrigo Duterte's request to extend martial law in the south by a year after the military warned that terrorist threats continue to lurk despite the defeat of a disastrous pro-Islamic State group siege. Source
  • FBI agent removed from Russia probe called Trump an 'idiot'

    World News CBC News
    Two FBI officials who would later be assigned to the special counsel's investigation into Donald Trump's U.S. presidential campaign described him with insults like "idiot" and "loathsome human" in a series of text messages last year, according to copies of the messages released Tuesday. Source
  • Suicide bomb suspect in New York City faces court hearing

    World News CTV News
    NEW YORK - A Bangladeshi immigrant is expected to appear before a federal magistrate to face terrorism charges accusing him of setting off an explosive strapped to his body in a New York City transportation hub. Source
  • Pedophile stopped at Sydney Airport under anti-sex tourism law

    World News CTV News
    CANBERRA, Australia - A convicted child molester was prevented from flying overseas from Sydney Airport on Wednesday under new laws aimed at keeping Australian pedophiles from travelling to Southeast Asia for sex tourism. Laws that took effect on Wednesday prevent 20,000 convicted pedophiles listed on the Australian child sex offender register from leaving the country except for specific purposes approved by law enforcement agencies. Source
  • UN envoy says 'door ajar' to negotiated North Korea solution

    World News CBC News
    The UN political chief said Tuesday that senior North Korean officials told him during a four-day visit to the country last week "that it was important to prevent war" over the country's rapidly advancing nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Source
  • Assault victim says ex-boyfriend's discharge tells attackers 'He can get away with it'

    Canada News CTV News
    A Newfoundland woman who was beaten by her ex-boyfriend says a judge’s decision to grant a discharge sends a clear message to attackers that “you can do whatever you want as long as you’re going to university at some point. Source
  • North Koreans say it's important to prevent war: UN official

    World News CTV News
    The UN political chief said Tuesday that senior North Korea officials told him during a four-day visit to the country last week "that it was important to prevent war" over the country's rapidly advancing nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Source
  • Sold North Korean brides face hard choices in China

    World News CTV News
    WESTERN LIAONING PROVINCE, China -- The North Korean woman drives a motorbike slowly down a narrow lane shaded by tall corn to the farmhouse where she lives with the disabled Chinese man who bought her. Source
  • Democrat Doug Jones defeats Republican Roy Moore in stunning Alabama Senate upset

    World News CBC News
    In a stunning victory aided by scandal, Democrat Doug Jones won Alabama's special Senate election on Tuesday, beating back history, an embattled Republican opponent and President Donald Trump, who urgently endorsed Republican rebel Roy Moore despite a litany of sexual misconduct allegations. Source