It's hard to fathom a more difficult year for the region's refugee community. The City of Boise was thrust into the national spotlight in late June when nine refugees, including six children, were stabbed in a horrific attack at a local apartment complex. One of the children, a girl who was celebrating her third birthday, died of her injuries. Two days later, Boise Mayor Dave Bieter looked out on a crow of thousands of attendees at a vigil to honor the refugees and said, "This is the Boise that I know: One that comes closer together."
Hundreds of refugees have been resettled into Idaho over the past few decades, coming from some of the most dangerous places on the planet. As recently as mid-September, the Trump administration announced that it would drop the ceiling of refugees to its lowest since the resettlement program was created in 1980.
Despite those long shadows, those who champion Boise's refugee community rebound with optimism. Take, for example, World Refugee Day in mid-summer, which fills Boise's Grove Plaza with food, dancing, song and an all-important citizenship ceremony. Then, there's the wildly popular Treasure Valley Refugee Restaurant Week each October, sponsored by the Idaho Office for Refugees.
"What we've seen over the past couple of years is people from all walks of life sitting down to a meal. But they're tasting something new, something amazing," said Kara Fink, IOR outreach and partnership manager and founder of Boise Refugee Restaurant Week. "Because of that new experience, participants will definitely come away with an appreciation for a new dish, but also for the person who made it and the culture that made it possible."
After hearing about the Refugee Food Festival in Paris, Fink had the idea of "resettling" the concept in Boise in 2016. The first year began modestly, but the event has since doubled in size. This year's celebration is slated for Monday, Oct. 8, through Sunday, Oct. 14, and will include chef teams at Grit American Cuisine in Eagle (Syrian cuisine with Chef Sadam), Locavore in Bown Crossing (Somali cuisine with Chef Rahma), Petite 4 on the Boise Bench (Nepalese cuisine with Chef Ratna) and The STIL in downtown Boise (Syrian-inspired ice cream with Chef Najlaa).