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World Refugee Day commemoration is Saturday in Grand Forks

A Grand Forks nonprofit is planning a pair of refugee- and immigrant-focused events this weekend and early next week. The first: its 13th annual World Refugee Day celebration Saturday in Town Square. The second: "Belonging: A Sense of Community Through Stories" Tuesday at University Park.

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Global Friends Coalition is planning the 13th annual commemoration of World Refugee Day this weekend.

The coalition is set to host Nepalese dancing, artwork, a Somali fashion show, recognition for people who’ve recently gained U.S. citizenship, a play by area English language students about fitting in, and music beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 19, at Town Square in downtown Grand Forks. Staff at the city and Grand Forks County’s combined health department are also set to be on hand to offer COVID-19 vaccinations, and High Plains Fair Housing workers are scheduled to talk about housing equity.

Scheduled speakers include Abdirisak Duale, who’s the head of the New Americans Integration Center in East Grand Forks, and Reggie Tarr, a resettlement coordinator at the North Dakota Department of Human Services. Prakash Pathak, a Global Friends board member and UND medical student, is set to emcee.

And, at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 22, the coalition is set to host “Belonging: A Sense of Community Through Stories” at University Park. There, different refugees will talk about their lives before and after heading to the United States, then moderator Laetitia Hellerud will lead a panel discussion about the refugee’s stories.

The United Nations designated June 20 each year World Refugee Day. It “celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution.”

Joe Bowen is an award-winning reporter at the Duluth News Tribune. He covers schools and education across the Northland.

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