New documentary highlights Utica's refugee population

A new documentary about the many refugees who have been hired by Chobani over the past ten years showcases the importance that refugees have in the communities they relocate to.

Posted: Feb 21, 2021 2:57 PM
Updated: Feb 21, 2021 7:51 PM

Utica, N.Y. - A new 45 minute documentary called "Moving Humanity Forward" debuted on VICE and VICETV.com on Monday, February 15th and it highlights Utica's refugee population.

The documentary focuses on Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya and his people-first business philosophy and refugee advocacy work.

The documentary follows the lives of refugees who live in the Utica region and are employed by Chobani, showcasing the positive impact refugee integration in society has on business and communities.

Chobani officials say the film's heart can be summarized by Ulukaya's belief that "the minute you get a job, that's the minute you stop being a refugee."

"Once you start doing work on humanity there is this magnet – it just takes you," says Ulukaya in the film. "We must put social issues, our community, our people, in the center and let profit come after. And it will come."

Shelly Callahan, Executive Director of the former 'Refugee Center' in Utica, now simply called 'The Center' located on Bleecker Street, was interviewed last summer and is in the documentary.

Callahan says she watched it once it was unveiled this past week, "I thought they really did a great job of showing both the refugee experience, the employer side and how critically important it is to the real upstate experience that we need these people and we have needed these people for quite a while now, we need them to come to our communities and they really do add so much. I hope everybody takes pride in the story that is told here because it is remarkable. Yes other places do this refugee resettlement, but Utica just does it as well or better than anyone else."

You can watch 'Moving Humanity Forward' online at video.vice.com

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