Modification - Nobel Peace Prize nominees White Helmets to visit five Canadian cities

News Release

Modification: new Winnipeg event (see backgrounder)

Syria Civil Defence and Mayday Rescue team members to share with Canadians their stories from war-torn Syria

December 6, 2016 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada

The Honourable Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Howard Drake, British High Commissioner to Canada, announced today that members of the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Syria Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, will be visiting Canada from December 7 to 13, 2016, as part of a series of free public events called Searching for Hope in Syria: In Conversation with the White Helmets.

Each event will include a screening of the award-winning Netflix documentary The White Helmets followed by a panel discussion. The panellists will include Raed Saleh, Head of the White Helmets and Chair of Syria Civil Defence; Farouq Habib, Syria Program Director at Mayday Rescue Foundation; and James Le Mesurier, founder and Director of Mayday Rescue. They will explain the work they do training volunteers and saving thousands of lives in one of the most dangerous places on earth.

Made possible through the support of the British High Commission and Global Affairs Canada, these events are a further example of how the United Kingdom and Canada are working together to raise awareness of the devastating situation in Syria. Both countries are major donors to the humanitarian effort in Syria, and the United Kingdom is a leading international supporter of the White Helmets.

Today, Canada is also announcing a $4.5-million contribution to Mayday Rescue to support the White Helmets’ life-saving work in Syria. This contribution, funded through the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program (PSOPs), will allow the White Helmets to recruit and train female volunteers and establish new centres that will strengthen the organization’s reach and capacity to provide critical services to all Syrians in need, particularly women and girls.

Quotes

“Canada is steadfast in its support of the Syrian people. I am truly inspired by the courage of the White Helmets, who put their lives on the line to help the most vulnerable in Syria. I commend them for their bravery. We stand shoulder to shoulder with our allies in our pursuit of a political settlement that will bring an end to the violent conflict in Syria.”

- Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“I’m delighted we are bringing this remarkable organization to Canada. Given the unfolding tragedy in Syria, it is vital that we focus international attention on the crisis and support those who are risking their lives to save others. The White Helmets’ nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize was a testament to their bravery, having saved over 73,000 people from the rubble. Our film tour will be an opportunity for all of us to recognize this bravery and to discuss a way forward for the people of Syria. There is no more pressing international issue.”

- Howard Drake, British High Commissioner to Canada

“We look forward to coming to Canada to share our work through the film and to discuss with Canadians the stark realities of life in Syria.”

- Raed Saleh, Head of the White Helmets and Chair of Syria Civil Defence

Quick facts

  • Mayday Rescue is a not-for-profit organization that partners with communities undergoing conflict by providing training and equipment as well as advocacy and outreach.
  • The ongoing conflict in Syria has triggered the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. According to the UN, 13.5 million people in Syria need urgent help, including 6.5 million who are internally displaced.
  • On February 8, 2016, Canada committed an additional $1.6 billion over the next three years to respond to the situation in Syria and Iraq and across the region. This includes humanitarian, development and security assistance that will help to meet the food, shelter, health, protection and emergency educational needs of Syrians affected by the crisis.
  • The Government of Canada has resettled more than 33,000 Syrian refugees since November 2015.

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Contacts

Chantal Gagnon
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
343-203-1851
chantal.gagnon@international.gc.ca

Media Relations Office
Global Affairs Canada
343-203-7700
media@international.gc.ca
Follow us on Twitter: @CanadaFP
Follow Minister Dion on Twitter: @MinCanadaFA
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