June 20th is World Refugee Day, an international celebration of the strength and resilience of those who have fled conflict and persecution.
Erie is home to thousands of former refugees, many of whom have become naturalized citizens. Former refugees are an important part of Erie’s economic engine and have helped stabilized population decline. Erie Arts & Culture is proud to publish an updated directory of small businesses owned by former refugees.
Thanks to grants from the Erie Community Foundation and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Menajerie Studios has created a short documentary about three of the many food markets owned by refugees that can be found within the City of Erie. Visiting one of these markets is a great way to experience a culture outside of your own. Because most of the markets are located in areas designated as food deserts, they are literal oases - offering fresh produce, dairy, meats, nuts and seeds, and other non-perishable items. Erie Arts & Culture’s Folklorist in Residence, Kelly Armor, states, “The USDA’s criteria for food deserts doesn’t recognize the importance and impact of our refugee-owned markets. Large, corporate, grocery stores are not helpful to someone from Bhutan who relies on a large choice of dried legumes and spices, or someone from Syria who needs Halal meat or tannour flatbread. These corner stores are a lifeline for their customers.”
We invite you to view the documentary included in this post to learn more about the three markets. Please share this video with your friends and family to help uplift our local refugee-owned businesses this World Refugee Day! Check out the other refugee owned businesses (63 in total!) in the directory included below.