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

  • Hike in serious rail, pipeline accidents in 2017 says safety board

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- Serious accidents involving both rail and pipeline transport of dangerous substances like crude oil and gas increased in 2017 over the previous year, according to statistics compiled by the Transportation Safety Board. Source
  • Officers wrongly told teens that pot causes 'enhanced mammary growth in men'

    Canada News CTV News
    AURORA, Ont. -- Police north of Toronto are trying to clear the air after officers reportedly told a group of teens that marijuana use can lead to "enhanced mammary growth in men." York Regional Police Service spokeswoman Const. Source
  • False story claims Trump forged physical checkup results

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump did not forge the results of his physical, despite the claims of a story that suggested a misspelled name of the White House doctor indicated the doctor never signed off on the report. Source
  • U.S. attorney general orders probe of election meddling

    World News CBC News
    U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has ordered the creation of a task force to examine how his Justice Department can better combat a wide cross-section of global cyber threats, including efforts to interfere with elections or damage critical infrastructure. Source
  • Explainer: What's going on in Syria's rebellious suburb Ghouta?

    World News CTV News
    BEIRUT -- The airstrikes came at a rate of one a minute, with horrible results: civilians fleeing collapsing buildings, children trapped under slabs of concrete, paramedics grimly rushing the bloodied victims away on stretchers. At least 100 people were killed in one day. Source
  • Federal budget looks ready to help protect more lands, inland waters, oceans

    Canada News CBC News
    The federal government appears poised to earmark funds in next week's budget aimed at meeting United Nations' targets on protecting more of Canada's lands, inland waters and oceans. Groups pushing Canada to fulfil its international vows to protect more of its ecosystems by 2020 say their interactions with government officials suggest that this will be the year Ottawa makes a big investment in protected areas. Source
  • B.C. lawsuit seeks damages after women secretly recorded in a work bathroom

    Canada News CTV News
    VANCOUVER -- The former operator of a wedding decor supply business in British Columbia is facing more legal action following his conviction for secretly recording two workers while they used the employee washroom. Andy Anthony Raddysh is named in two civil lawsuits filed by the Workers Compensation Board of B.C. Source
  • Kidney Foundation gets dozens of calls after family takes out 27 billboards seeking organ donor

    Canada News CBC News
    The head of the Kidney Foundation in Calgary says the family that put up billboards seeking donors is helping everyone waiting for transplant. "It always brings more living donors into the system, not just for the person who's put the word out, but there will be others that will benefit from these stories, for sure," said Joyce Van Deurzen, executive director of the Kidney Foundation of Canada in southern Alberta and Saskatchewan. Source
  • Environmentalists in court seeking details on Keystone XL approval

    Canada News CTV News
    BILLINGS, Mont. -- Opponents of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada are asking a judge to force the U.S. government to turn over emails and other documents related to President Donald Trump's approval of the project. Source
  • Alberta shrugs off B.C. legal challenge on wine ban

    Canada News CTV News
    EDMONTON -- Alberta's economic development minister is shrugging off a legal challenge filed by British Columbia over Alberta's ban on B.C. wine. Deron Bilous says the potential fine Alberta faces for violating free trade rules is a pittance when set against the stakes of the Trans Mountain pipeline issue. Source