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Media Release
January 7, 2016
Halifax, NS

A Child’s Lifejacket from a Perilous Crossing:
New Artifacts on Display

The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in partnership with the Canada Science and Technology Museum and with the cooperation of Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders presents a thought-provoking display that will allow visitors to continue the discussion of welcoming refugees to Canada within a larger historical context.

In 2015, over a million people arrived in Europe, fleeing violence and instability from countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea and Pakistan. One in five was a child and most of these migrants faced a dangerous sea voyage across the Mediterranean with over 3,500 people dying in these crossings.

The artifacts collected by Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders field workers and currently on-loan from Canada Science and Technology Museum are a tangible reminder of the global migrant crisis. These artifacts were recovered from rafts of mostly Syrian and African refugees as they made the perilous crossing in the Mediterranean in 2015.

A Perilous Crossing will be on display at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 until March 31st, 2016. When visiting the Museum, take a moment to reflect on the important history displayed through these small artifacts with many stories to tell.

Quick Facts

  • A Perilous Crossing features artifacts collected by Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders field workers including a child’s recreational inflatable vest; a certified lifejacket worn by a small child who was rescued in August 2015; as well as a plastic compass.
  • Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders is the world’s leading independent international medical relief organization, implementing and managing medical projects in close to 70 countries worldwide and with national offices in 21 countries.

Quotes

We are honoured to present this thought-provoking display featuring items collected by Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders on-loan from the Canada Science and Technology Museum. The response of Canadians to the migrant crisis is ongoing and we encourage visitors to consider the parallels between current events and Canada’s evolving response to refugees in the 20th century.

- Marie Chapman, CEO, Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

As the migrant crisis increased in early summer [2015], I reached out to Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders to collect medical items used in their rescue missions on the Mediterranean. The Canada Science and Technology Museum was fortunate to acquire several powerful objects that told this story. I felt it was important to capture the experience of the migrants, as well as the experience of Canadian doctors on the front-lines.

- David Pantalony, Curator, Physical Sciences and Medicine, Canada Science and Technology Museum

We hope that the artifacts collected by our colleagues during rescue missions in the Mediterranean will remind Canadians not only of the thousands of lives tragically lost at sea, but also that the migrant crisis we are seeing in Europe is but the tip of an iceberg: over 60 million people are uprooted by conflict and chaos around the world today. We are witnessing a global humanitarian crisis that challenges our moral responsibilities as an international community, imploring us to ensure the safe passage and the humane treatment of people regardless of status or location.

- Stephen Cornish, executive director of Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders Canada

Media Contacts

Stéphanie Comeau
Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
(902) 425-7770 ext. 264
scomeau@pier21.ca

Jennifer Sutherland
Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
(902) 425-7770 ext. 228
jsutherland@pier21.ca