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"Queen’s Refuge: Refugees and the University" Exhibit Tour

Heather Home
Queen's University Archives
Brendan Edwards
Megan Zelle
Nicholas KingHill
Aerin Leavitt
W.D. Jordan Rare Books and Special Collections

Join the Final Tour with the curators of the exhibition Queen’s Refuge: Refugees and the University at W.D. Jordan Rare Books and Special Collections in the Douglas Library on Friday, November 26, 2021between 10:00 am and 11:30 am

There is no RVSP necessary for this event. Visitors must be fully vaccinated to participate in on-campus learning activities and are encouraged to use the SeQure App to complete their assessment questionnaires. Alternatively, you can use the Ontario government self-assessment tool. Masks are mandatory and no food or drink are permitted.

W.D. Jordan Rare Books and Special Collections is located on the 2nd floor of the Douglas Library at 93 University Avenue.


This exhibition examines stories of forced migration in the history of Queen’s University and within the Queen’s community. It reflects the diverse trajectories of those who sought refuge. Some found sanctuary at Queen’s and Kingston became their new home. Others found safety at the University for only a short time, migrating elsewhere when the opportunity was available. In addition to examples of shelter, relief, and solidarity, the exhibition presents instances of reluctance, prejudice, antisemitism, and racism.

Queen’s Refuge: Refugees and the University tells its story through the lens of individual biographies: one person, associated with one refugee-related phenomenon, is further represented by one object. These are stories that go beyond campus and have always been closely linked to the broader Kingston community. It is a story that is still highly relevant today.

Following the opening question “What’s in a suitcase?”, the exhibition presents perspectives from and on refugees by focusing on four aspects of the refugee experience: Directions, Transit, Relief, and Arrival. The exhibition closes with the question, “What’s a refuge?”, which we encourage visitors to reflect upon.

This exhibition was prepared by Queen’s University undergraduate students, an archivist, a librarian, and a historian, and has been in preparation since 2019. It represents the interests of these individuals while at the same time reflecting notable silences in collections, the archival record, research, representations, and even common knowledge.

This exhibition was curated by Swen Steinberg, Brendan Edwards, Heather Home, Megan Zelle, Nicholas KingHill and Aerin Leavitt. The exhibition team would like to thank everyone who made this possible, especially those who shared their stories, or shared a family member’s story.

Department of History, Queen's University

49 Bader Lane, Watson Hall 212
Kingston ON K7L 3N6




Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.