Run, Walk or Cheer
at The Home Run!

Katie Dolan is the first person to tell you that before last year, she hadn’t been exposed much to the cause of statelessness or refugees. Once the young sales manager with Ottawa Tourism became aware, she felt had to do something to make a difference, so she organised The Home Run. Katie invites the residents of Ottawa to sign up for this very special 5K fun run. On Tuesday, Sept. 27, join us to run, walk or cheer people along the route down the Rideau Canal!

So what is statelessness? It is the condition of having no state recognize your citizenship. You are in legal limbo – you have no home to go back to, no home to look forward to. You are stuck between national rules and global politics. Being stateless is closely associated with refugees, because many refugees become stateless as a result of fleeing war or persecution at home.

It is estimated that approximately 21 million people around the world are refugees, meaning that they have been forced from their own countries due to war or persecution. It’s also estimated that 10 million people worldwide are stateless. Many stateless people are also refugees, although exact numbers are hard to come by. In both cases, it is common to lose access to education, to health care, and to employment. Some examples of stateless populations include Palestinians living in Syria and some of the Rohingya from Myanmar. Here in Canada, there are a variety of reasons why people are stateless, and some children born abroad to Canadian parents are at risk of becoming stateless.

Katie first learned about statelessness and the global refugee crisis at the One Young World summit in Bangkok, Thailand last fall. She had gone there with Mayor Jim Watson and an Ottawa delegation in preparation for Ottawa to host the summit this year. One Young World is billed as the “Davos for the under-30s” – a gathering of more than 1,300 young leaders from around the globe, tackling topics such as climate change, peace and security, human rights and global migration.

While at the Bangkok summit, Katie heard a talk by Kamolnan Chearavanont, a young woman who started an organization to support abused women and children, specifically those who are stateless in Thailand, Kamolnan’s home country. 

“I was so grateful to be at the summit and vowed I would do something to make a difference when One Young World came to Ottawa,” says Katie. “The stories Kamolnan told of stateless women and children being abused were so moving, I knew right away that I wanted to help bring attention to how vulnerable you are when you’re stateless, or when you’re a refugee.”

Katie quickly came up with the idea of a fun run on the eve of the summit, to be open to delegates and residents of Ottawa who want to support these worthy causes. John Halvorsen of Run Ottawa generously stepped up to provide race logistics, while other  partners — including the Shaw Centre, The Westin Hotel, Epic Fitness, KISS FM and more — jumped at the chance to support the cause. Katie also reached out to us at Refugee 613 to learn more about the issues and about our work providing information and collaboration support to local agencies and individuals working with refugees. We’re grateful that Katie decided to make Refugee 613 the designated charity for the event.

The Home Run is an opportunity to make a difference. More than 100 young summit delegates from around the world have already signed up to run, along with scores of Ottawa residents. UNHCR Canada is sponsoring 10 former refugees to run. iRun publisher and soon-to-be-author Mark Sutcliffe (also the host of Newstalk 1310’s Ottawa Today and Rogers TV’s Talk Ottawa) will be the MC at the starting line, where there will also be a few words spoken by people who have lived the refugee experience before we all set off on the course along the beautiful Rideau Canal.

Come out to make these One Young World delegates feel at home in Ottawa, while supporting those who do not have one. – register here. If you’d rather just donate without breaking a sweat, donations are also welcome here.

Remember, this is a run OR walk. I will be there with my runners on, and will hope to see you there too.

Louisa Taylor
Refugee 613