Refugees: Seeking Solace, Safety and Serenity

by Jessica Schaffer, Director of HIAS Immigration & Citizenship

In 1949, my grandparents, like so many thousands of Jews at the time, arrived in Canada as refugees. They had survived the ghettos and concentrations camps of Poland and Germany and were grateful for the opportunity to build a new, quiet life in a welcoming community. With them was my mother, only two years old at the time. Though she didn’t know the same horrors as my grandparents, she did know the feeling of containment in the Bergen Belsen Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp, in which she was born and spent the first years of her life. For her, my grandparents wished a bright, safe future. They wanted her to grow roots in a country that accepted her and that she could call home.  

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