In coordination with Cazenovia College, Cazenovia Forum continues to monitor the pandemic situation with regard to public gatherings. At this time, the College has approved for the spring 2022 Forum programs to occur in person at the College's Catherine Cummings Theatre, masks will no longer be required for those who are fully vaccinated and boosted. However, if circumstances change and the College deems otherwise, Cazenovia Forum will immediately alert the public and update this website.


Cazenovia Welcomes Refugees - film "Utica: The Last Refuge"

Date: Friday, June 3rd at 7 PM ET
Venue: Catherine Cummings Theatre, 16 Lincklaen Street, Cazenovia, NY

CAZENOVIA WELCOMES REFUGEES and CAZENOVIA FORUM are pleased to present a screening of UTICA: THE LAST REFUGE, a documentary produced by Off Ramp Films. Director Loch Phillips describes the film's development as a "passion project" which captures the spirit and commitment of the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees and the reinvention and transformation of Utica as a nationally-recognized model for refugee resettlement. Filmed over the course of four years, the film premiered in November of '21.

Nearly 30 million people worldwide are seeking refuge. Many of them were once prosperous and comfortable like you and me. Many others had little to leave behind but left what little they had. Nearly all were driven from their homes by war or famine or persecution or natural disasters. It's a massive, overwhelming problem and so difficult many of us just turn away in frustration.

But not everybody. Cazenovia Welcomes Refugees (CWR), an organization founded in 2016, has as its mission "to support Cazenovia as a welcoming community to refugees." CWR's first resettled family has been here for four years. A second family will be moving this June into a village home that was made available by Cazenovia College and that has been renovated by CWR.

To highlight the solutions possible to the refugee issue, CWR and the Cazenovia Forum will present a screening of the film "Utica: The Last Refuge" Friday, June 3 at 7 p.m. in the Catherine Cummings Theater, 16 Lincklaen Street. The event is free and open to the public.

Produced by veteran journalist and Utica native David Chanatry, the film tells the story of how refugees' presence in Utica has led to a cultural and economic revitalization of the community. It tells the stories of individual refugees and talks to experts who have compiled data that help explain a city that defies the conventional wisdom regarding refugees. Among the refugees' stories are those of a Bosnian hairdresser who started the first female-, refugee-owned business in the area; a Burmese grocer; a Bosnian with a thriving construction business; and a Burmese nurse practitioner.

At the same time, the film follows the efforts of the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees (MVRCR) as the agency responds to constant changes in policy produced by executive orders and court rulings.

The film also talks to local politicians who extol the virtues of diversity in Utica and comment upon the hard work and dedication of the refugees. Local companies now work with MVRCR when they need employees and look optimistically on refugees as the stable workforce they previously lacked.

Following the film, representatives from the organizations involved with local refugee resettlement will be available for a question-and-answer session.

CWR's steering committee was formed to work in partnership with the Center for New Americans program of Interfaith Works of Syracuse. CWR has organized educational community events to create greater awareness of the realities of the global refugee crisis and the issues faced by refugees as they become integrated into our American communities. More information on CWR can be found at:

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