HanVoice is a Canadian human rights group that advocates for policy and action on North Korea. Image: HanVoice/Provided
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Upcoming panel with North Korean refugee is just one way for students to get involved

HanVoice, a Canadian human rights group that advocates for policy and action on North Korea, announced the beginning of a pilot project which will make Canada the first country to accept North Korean refugees through private sponsorship. 

The co-presidents of HanVoice’s University of Ottawa chapter, Jinee Lee and Matthew Min, sat down with the Fulcrum to discuss how the pilot project will steer the club’s work in the coming months. 

Min got involved with HanVoice “because it was a unique topic that not a lot of organizations and clubs were discussing. One thing that stuck out to me was how much the collective passion of envoys throughout the country with all the university chapters, how intense it was, and how much they really deeply cared about the topic […] everyone had a like-minded collective goal to try to help with the North Korean refugee situation.”

Lee joined HanVoice uOttawa more recently, at the end of last year. Lee shared, “I thought it was interesting that there was a student-led chapter that’s part of an organization that seeks to help and learn about North Korean human rights. I [was interested in] the overall situation and the history and what we can do in Canada to help refugees that are seeking help.”

Lee continued to speak on how this pilot project will provide a great opportunity for university students who feel idealistic and want to effect tangible change. “I think that being part of the club or just the effort in general, offers that it really gives you insight on the direct impact that you can make, just as an ordinary citizen in Canada. I think that that’s another significance of being the first private sponsorship for North Korean refugees, is just the fact that we can really make that direct impact.”

Similarly for Min, the groundbreaking part of this pilot program lies in the ability to involve any and all Canadians through donations. “Unlike the United States and South Korea (the only other nations that provide resettlement of North Korean refugees), we’re in a unique position right now where the pilot program is a private sponsorship program, which means uOttawa can come in and help, they can donate and they can [provide] funds and financial support and actively be involved with the resettlement or Northern refugees when it comes to their relocation, their training and eventually the goal of them being self-sufficient.”

“We’re going to be emphasizing fundraising events to help financially contribute to the private sponsorship program,” said Min. “One thing we are planning to do as well is a pioneer project program. So we’ll be inviting in North Korean refugee, Sam Kim and having a joint event with Carleton university[’s branch of HanVoice] and presenting a mini pane to an audience that could have almost a direct conversation, and a direct exposure to a situation that a lot of people are unaware of or maybe not as educated as they could be.”

Lee spoke of the upcoming awareness campaigns the club is planning and the panel where Kim will “speak about his story and his experiences and [to provide] a different perspective, a real-life perspective on the ongoings of North Korea and what North Korean refugees have to go through to seek protection and security from their country.”

Students interested in the upcoming events HanVoice will be hosting can watch the club’s Facebook page for updates and ways to get involved.