By: Casey A. Rosner, Citizen Summit Participant


The 2016 Citizen Summit, hosted by the Mosaic Institute one month ago in Montréal, drew a crowd of diverse and dedicated professionals, change-makers, and passionate individuals to discuss the ongoing global refugee crisis. Academics, artists, and activists alike spoke of their perspectives on a kaleidoscope of contemporary refugee issues. Topics ranged from national policy and community engagement, to the urgency of responding to the growing needs of on-site healthcare. Each speaker, workshop leader, and participant disseminated individual experiences into a true ‘Mosaic’; the resulting image showed the long journey from exodus to immigration for a refugee. After one month, I’d like to share my reflections on this Mosaic.

As a recent graduate from McGill University’s Institute for the Study of International Development, I was drawn to this conference for two reasons. The first reason is the subtler one.  I bought my ticket to the 2016 Citizen’s Summit because I wanted to know more about the folks who engage with the crisis on a personal level. I wanted to hear their voices and make note of their hardships and their techniques. I wanted to action their words. I wanted to distill the essence of the “Canadian response to the global refugee crisis” into a singularity; into something I could visualize.  From that point of view, I wagered, I could do what I do best — make projects more efficient.

And what I learned surprised me.

Too often we work in spaces where our opinions are echoed. This is especially true for those drawn into fields as emotionally taxing as advocacy, healthcare, and aid. As individuals shared their unique experiences with the refugee crisis, it became clear that this issue of repetition, referred to as a ‘silo’, was an obstacle faced across the board. But there is an easy solution. Allow me to share my experience with you. I heard one participant mention the problem she was encountering in her research: how to quantify qualitative data. I was elated! Measurement and evaluation is my field! My research engages with empowerment, both economic and social, so I had numerous resources to share with her.  In my opinion, the Summit was a milestone for many because it provided a space for inter-professional collusion. Dialogue among aid providers is essential to effecting change. When our tools are distilled and disseminated, we action our words and create effective dialogue

citizen-summit-group-shot And the need for spaces like the Mosaic Institute’s Citizen Summit is increasingly pressing. Just one month after this conference, a month of disasters both natural and human, I can feel a palpable sense of imminent change. The world simply is not the same. In one month, I’ve watched a culture of increasing hostility towards ‘the other’ explode in the U.S.A, where I was raised, and even here, in Canada. In a world such as this, the only way towards effecting change is global, and effective, collaboration.