This short documentary follows several refugee families during their first 19 days in Canada, as they navigate an unfamiliar terrain that has suddenly become their home.
Located in the quiet Calgary neighbourhood of Bridgeland, the Margaret Chisholm Resettlement Centre is the starting point for government-assisted refugees who arrive in the city. The Centre is continually welcoming a new wave of visitors, most coming from war-torn countries like Somalia, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. While many Bridgeland residents do not even know the Centre exists, for the refugees living there, it is their entire world.
During the 19-day timeline established by the federal government, an initial assessment is done and refugees are assisted with everything from airport reception and orientation to referrals, documents, and counselling.
The majority of the refugees are fleeing armed conflicts and countries in ruins. Most were forced to leave loved ones behind. It is the goal of finding a safe place, a place where they may one day feel at home, that brings them to Canada. For them, this is a new chapter—the beginning of a new life.
19 Days reveals the human side of the refugee resettlement process. A unique look at the global migration crisis and one particular stage of asylum, it lays plain the realities faced on the difficult road towards integration.
The documentary was directed by Somali-Canadian filmmakers Asha and Roda Siad, whose recent credits include the Amnesty International Canada Media Award winner Living at the Border, an interactive doc that explores the experiences of African refugees in Italy.