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Jane Enkin

Friends for Israel and Jewish Federation put on program about Yazidi refugees-The Invisible victims of ISIL

by Jane Enkin, March 28, 2015



The Winnipeg Friends of Israel ( the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg hosted an evening about Yazidi refugees on March 24, 2015. The event was well-attended – I estimated about 75 people,  from the Jewish , Yazidi  and Christian (Bridges for Peace) communities, who filled the adult lounge at the Asper Jewish Community Centre.




Like many other Canadians, I am sure, I heard about the Yazidi religion for the first time in the summer of 2014. ISIL (also known as ISIS) militants invaded Yazidi villages in Northern Iraq. Many people were killed; many fled to a barren, dry mountain where conditions were crippling. Eventually, some made it to refugee camps.




Again, like most Canadians, when the media moved on to other events I didn't learn more about the Yazidis. But I felt I had to attend this program-it seemed so clear to me that the situation of the Yazidis right now paralleled that of Jews in Europe leading up to the Second World War- especially since Jews have faced hatred and persecution. I had to find out if there is a way for Canadians to make a difference.




I'll briefly address the first part of the title question, “Who are they?” The simple answer is that they are an ethnic, religious and cultural minority group who have lived for centuries in the same areas as the Kurdish people, mostly in Northern Iraq.




The detailed answer is so complex I recommend curious readers consult the many websites with information. From my google search, it seems to me that provides information from a Yazidi perspective, including history, a brief description of religious beliefs and excerpts from scriptures.




Nafiya Naso is a young woman of Yazidi heritage raising a family in Winnipeg. She was born in Iraq, spent her early childhood in a refugee camp, and immigrated to Canada with her parents. Her education has been here in Winnipeg, including the courses she is taking now at Red River College. With long, loose hair and stylish, casual clothes, Naso (like the other Yazidis present at the event) visually fits right into multicultural Canada.





Naso spoke about her people, and she also showed several videos abou

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