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

  • Oakland warehouse missing from fire-inspection records: firefighter

    World News CTV News
    SAN FRANCISCO -- The illegally occupied Oakland warehouse where dozens of partygoers perished in a blaze does not appear in a database fire inspectors use to schedule inspections and may never have been checked for fire hazards, a firefighter with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. Source
  • Large crowds to celebrate South Korean president's impeachment

    World News CTV News
    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of -- Large crowds are expected to gather in South Korea's capital to celebrate the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye over an explosive corruption scandal that saw millions protest in previous weeks. Source
  • Rudy Giuliani removes himself from State Department consideration

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani formally withdrew from consideration for a post in President-elect Donald Trump's administration Friday, putting an end to his ill-fated bid to lead the State Department. Trump is now seriously considering Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson for the post. Source
  • Kevin O'Leary may announce intentions on Tory leadership run Monday: Sources

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Kevin O'Leary is expected to announce his intentions on his bid for the federal Conservative leadership on Monday, sources confirm. The 62-year-old businessman-turned-reality-star is expected to tell Conservative members of parliament during a meeting he's hosting over the lunch hour. Source
  • 'I made a mistake': Victim of 1982 attack that killed mom says the wrong man is in prison

    World News Toronto Sun
    KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A woman assaulted as a girl during a 1982 sexual attack that killed her mother says she was coerced into identifying the wrong man as the assailant and is asking Missouri’s governor to free that person who has spent 34 years in prison for the crimes. Source
  • Montreal Hudson's Bay store fined $765K for pollutants in St. Lawrence River

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- The Bay store in downtown Montreal was fined $765,000 for illegally releasing pollutants into the St. Lawrence River, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada said Friday. But Nathalie Houle of the federal government's public prosecution office was unable to confirm a Montreal La Presse report the fine was imposed after roughly 146 kilograms of PCBs from old transformers on the building's roof leaked into a drain and into the river. Source
  • Trump shut companies tied to Saudi Arabia days after election

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Corporate registrations in Delaware show that President-elect Donald Trump shut down some of his companies in the days after the election, including four companies that appeared connected to a possible Saudi Arabia business venture. Source
  • Official: Refrigerator ruled out as source of Oakland fire

    World News CTV News
    OAKLAND, Calif. -- A refrigerator was ruled out as the cause of a fire at a warehouse in Oakland that killed 36 people, but investigators were still looking at electrical systems as possible ignition sources, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Friday. Source
  • Florida man shoots ex-wife 4 times in chest at karaoke bar: Cops

    World News Toronto Sun
    Police in Florida say a man shot his ex-wife four times during an argument at an Orlando karaoke bar early Friday morning. Tu Quoc Ho, 43, was arrested and charged with attempted second-degree murder with a firearm, aggravated battery with a firearm, tampering with evidence and domestic violence battery, Orlando News 6 reports. Source
  • Giuliani won't be in cabinet as Trump makes campaign-style stops

    World News CBC News
    Appearing jovial and relaxed, Donald Trump plunged back into election politics Friday, a full month after he won the presidency, enthusiastically prodding Louisiana Republicans to turn out for Saturday's Senate runoff election and protect the party's 52-48 margin in Washington. Source