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

  • Welsh villagers could be U.K.’s first 'climate refugees'

    World News CTV News
    Villagers living in a coastal Welsh community could win the unenviable title of the United Kingdom’s first “climate change refugees.” Fairbourne (pop. 900) is barely above sea level. An embankment and drainage channels keep the Irish Sea out. Source
  • Eyewitnesses speak out about couple found dead on B.C. highway

    Canada News CTV News
    Two road workers in northern British Columbia are providing possible clues into the deaths of an Australian man and an American woman whose bodies were found on the side of a remote stretch of highway one week ago. Source
  • One dead, one in critical after plane crashes into river near Jasper, Alberta

    Canada News CTV News
    JASPER, Alta. - One person has died and another was taken to hospital after a small plane crashed into a river in western Alberta. RCMP Const. Shelley Nasheim says the aircraft was attempting to take off from an airstrip near Jasper on Sunday afternoon when it crashed into a nearby river. Source
  • 5 shot dead, 6 wounded in Acapulco bar near beach

    World News CTV News
    ACAPULCO, Mexico -- Gunmen killed five men and wounded six other people at a popular bar in Acapulco on Sunday, the latest in a string of violent incidents for the once-glamorous Pacific Coast resort city that has fallen on hard times. Source
  • Puerto Rico governor says he won't seek re-election in wake of scandal

    World News CBC News
    Puerto Rico's embattled governor says he will not seek re-election but will not resign as the island's leader, though he will step down as head of his pro-statehood party. Ricardo Rossello made the announcement Sunday via a brief Facebook video as hundreds of viewers posted angry messages. Source
  • Puerto Rico governor says he won't seek re-election amid furor over leaked messages

    World News CBC News
    Puerto Rico's embattled governor says he will not seek re-election but will not resign as the island's leader, though he will step down as head of his pro-statehood party. Ricardo Rossello made the announcement Sunday via a brief Facebook video as hundreds of viewers posted angry messages. Source
  • U.S. notes advance in Mexican migration enforcement

    World News CTV News
    MEXICO CITY -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged during a meeting Sunday that Mexico has made significant progress on migration enforcement, Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said. Ebrard said in a statement that due to these advances, Mexico sees no need to negotiate a "safe third country" agreement with Washington that would require migrants to apply for asylum in Mexico rather than in the U.S. Source
  • Plane crash near Jasper townsite sends two people to hospital

    Canada News CBC News
    Two people have been taken to hospital after a small plane crashed near the town of Jasper on Sunday afternoon. It was reported at about 1:30 p.m. that the aircraft crashed into the Athabasca River near the local airport, RCMP Const. Source
  • 1 person dead, another in critical condition after plane crash in Jasper, Alta.

    Canada News CBC News
    One person is dead and another is in critical condition after a small plane crashed near the town of Jasper, Alta., on Sunday afternoon. Alberta Health Services spokesperson Amy Crofts confirmed one person was declared dead on scene, and the other was taken to hospital. Source
  • 1 man dead, another in serious condition after plane crash in Jasper, Alta.

    Canada News CBC News
    One man is dead and another is in serious condition after a small plane crashed near the town of Jasper, Alta., on Sunday afternoon. The lone passenger, a 31-year-old man, was declared dead on scene, RCMP Const. Source