Bringing attention to the plight of refugees with ‘Finding Freedom’

April 4, 2023

The Canadian made documentary, Finding Freedom, premiered worldwide on March 3, featuring the journeys of four asylum seekers and the work of private sponsors and establishments in bringing refugees to safety.

The story follows the refugees as they documented their lives in prison-like conditions inside overseas refugee detention centres in Nauru and Manus Island. The documentary goes on to highlight the difficulties that refugees face, even after settling in a safe country.

Two of the four refugees arrived in B.C. via Canada’s Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSR) program. One refugee, Amin, arrived in Canada in December 2021 and was assisted by MOSAIC’s own private sponsorship program as part of the Operation #NotForgotten initiative.

MOSAIC’s Private Refugee Sponsorship program is recognized by the United Nations for its international and innovative partnerships. Since 2017, MOSAIC’s status as a Sponsorship Agreement Holder has allowed it to sponsor over 680 newcomers to Canada.

“Private refugee sponsorship to Canada has since its inception in 1979 been making a meaningful impact worldwide,” said Iris Challoner, Manager of MOSAIC’s Private Refugee Sponsorship Program. “In 2019 alone, private sponsors in Canada sponsored more individuals for resettlement than any government around the world.”

Challoner added: “The need for refugee resettlement is ever increasing and private refugee sponsorship will continue to be an important part of Canada’s refugee resettlement efforts. While the need will always be greater than our ability to help, MOSAIC’s Private Refugee Sponsorship Program will do its part to assist with Resettlement where able.”

The program is currently leading Operation #NotForgotten a joined Initiative between, MOSAIC, Ads Up Canada, UNHCR and the Refugee Council of Australia, helping resettle some of those stranded in Australia’s offshore detention centres.

Myo Win, a former refugee, spent seven years detained in Nauru and arrived in Canada via Operation #NotForgotten, and now lives in Vancouver. Though he wasn’t featured in the Finding Freedom documentary, he described the detention centre as an “open air prison”, with little to no freedom of movement.

“I still remember we were fighting in the line for the mail and especially for phone calls and to use the internet,” Win said, “Every day, we were in a horrible situation.”

From July 19, 2013 to December, 2014 the Australian government transferred asylum seekers who arrived by boat to its offshore processing centres in Nauru and Papua New Guinea, many remain to this day in indefinite detention even so despite have been found to be Refugees in need of Protection

The Refugee Council of Australia states:

“Offshore processing aims to stop people trying to come to Australia for protection by boat. Instead of reaching safety, they end up detained in remote places in terrible conditions.

For years they have been in limbo. They live in extremely poor conditions and are vulnerable to abuse.

The suffering has been enormous. The evidence of abuse, including sexual abuse, has been overwhelming. 13 people have died, including through neglect and suicide. Their health care is very poor. Their mental health is worse than those of people in refugee camps.”

Finding Freedom is available for free on streaming site, WaterBear and can be viewed in B.C. via Telus Optik.

To find out more about MOSAIC’s Private Refugee Sponsorship Program, click here.