Sask. politician says fireworks display bad for refugees, those with PTSD
Published Wednesday, September 7, 2016 9:27PM EDT
A Saskatchewan politician has unleashed a social media firestorm after posting a series of tweets suggesting that Syrian refugees and sufferers of PTSD might be negatively impacted by fireworks displays.
Saskatoon city councillor Pat Lorje posted the tweets on Saturday and Sunday after the city’s annual PotashCorp Fireworks Festival.
“I hope someone warned the Syrian refugees that the booms, bangs & other noise wasn’t from weapons,” she wrote in one tweet.
“Amazed that so many people do not know of connection between PTSD of war victims & soldiers, and fireworks which often triggers them,” she wrote on Twitter after the backlash began.
On Twitter, Saskatoon residents called the tweets “insensitive.”
The Saskatoon Open Door Society, which provides services to immigrants and refugees, says that while not all refugees suffer from PTSD, it’s possible that fireworks could reawaken awful memories in those that do.
“People who have those conditions, whether they’re refugees or not, they would be triggered with those kind of noises or anything that can remind people something similar to the trauma that they had,” the group’s executive director, Ali Abukar, told CTV Saskatoon.
Abukar said that Lorje’s tweets were generalizations on something that has been documented. Abukar, who works closely with the city’s Syrian refugees, says he has not received any complaints regarding the fireworks festival.
Lorje wouldn’t comment on the social media backlash, but said via Twitter that her remarks were “motivated by compassion for the refugees.”
Abukar says that the Open Door Society lets members know in advance when fireworks are scheduled in the city. The group also works to educate newcomers on Canadian celebratory traditions.
Best #yxe fireworks ever tonite. But I hope someone warned the Syrian refugees that the booms, bangs & other noise wasn't from weapons.— Pat Lorje (@patlorje) September 3, 2016
Amazed that so many people do not know of connection between PTSD of war victims & soldiers, and fireworks which often triggers anxiety— Pat Lorje (@patlorje) September 4, 2016
With files from CTV Saskatoon