Safe Place (1989)
A Videotape for Refugee Rights in Canada by Richard Fung and Peter Steven
This video documentary features the testimony of four new refugees to Canada: Iliana, from Chile; Saeed, from Iran; Hasaan, from Somalia; and Thelma, from Guatemala. They describe why they had to flee, how they got to Canada, and how they were treated on arrival in Canada.
“This educational documentary features the affecting testimonies of four recent refugees and chronicles the circumstances surrounding their journey and arrival in Canada. The refugees, who have all come from US-supported regimes, include: a musician accused of sedition in Iran; a member of a nursing union in Guatemala (many of whose co-workers were murdered); and an anti-Pinochet activist who left Chile at the age of fifteen (and who arrives to face a refugee board that cannot fathom anyone so young exercising political agency). Among the difficulties they discuss are the residual effects of trauma; the inefficiency of the refugee claims system; the indifference of Canadian immigration officials; and the antipathy of mainstream media that most often associate refugees with disaster metaphors like flood, influx and deluge. The tape, which serves as a strong advocacy tool, concludes with a picture-driven history recounting Canada’s egregious treatment of refugees and immigrants (from the Chinese Canadian Exclusion Act to the Komagata Maru to the St. Louis). The implication is that refugees are still greeted reluctantly by nations caught in a paroxysm of contradiction: nations wavering between racism and liberal ideology, between xenophobia and a commitment to human rights; between the need for a cheap labour force and limits of the welfare state.” (Kyo Maclear)