Community grant helps Yazidi recover from genocide trauma

By: Gerry Rucchin
November 12, 2019

The London Community Foundation is providing a grant to help Yazidi refugees in London. Director of the Mary J. Wright Research and Education Centre, Professor Karen Bax, fifth from the left, along with her colleagues, were recognized during the foundation’s annual celebration. (Submitted photo)

The London Community Foundation is providing a grant to help Yazidi refugees in London. Director of the Mary J. Wright Research and Education Centre, Professor Karen Bax, fifth from the left, along with her colleagues, were recognized during the foundation’s annual celebration. (Submitted photo)

Western Education’s Mary J. Wright Research and Education Centre is one of three partners, along with CMHA Middlesex and Merrymount Family Support and Crisis Centre, to have received a $232,000 grant provided to London Cross Cultural Learner Centre to help Yazidi refugees recover from genocide trauma.

The grant is courtesy of the London Community Foundation. It’s over two years and it will go towards developing a mental-health peer-support program.

“It’s an incredible donation for our city and for the Yazidi population who really are struggling in Canada and we aren’t always sure how to help,” said Director of the Mary J. Wright Research and Education Centre and Education professor, Karen Bax.

Many of the Yazidi refugees are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. The peer-support program will align them with a trusted person from their community who will help them navigate their needs through the mental health system.

The Mary J. Wright Research and Education Centre will evaluate the program to show investors the impact of their donations with the hope of demonstrating that mental health outcomes and quality of life for the Yazidi community in Canada can be improved through this peer support program, said Bax.

While the community partnership is made up of four diverse organizations, Bax said they fit together like a puzzle to ensure all aspects of the peer-support program will be a success.

The Yazidi are members of a religious and ethnic minority in Iraq who were ethnically cleansed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In 2014, the United Nations declared the ethnic cleansing a genocide.

London is home to one of the largest Yazidi communities in Canada and the majority are children.

The London Community Foundation presented five grants during its annual celebration at the Hellenic Community Centre. They also announced the foundation’s vital people award to individuals who work for not-for-profit organizations in London and Middlesex County.

Read more about the Mary J. Wright Research and Education Centre.