MONTREAL – Dozens of Montrealers came to the help of Syrian refugees on Saturday.
Hassan Nassif, a Syrian Montrealer, says he is one of the lucky ones.
“I left before the war, before the uprising,” he said.
It’s why he wants to make sure that those who are fleeing that situation in Syria feel welcomed in their new home, Quebec.
“Unfortunately the situation is very bad,” added Nassif. “It’s getting worse and worse, people there have lost hope.”
A Facebook initiative got him and other Montrealers to a storage locker on Côte de Liesse. The group was calling for donations for the thousands of Syrian refugees that are soon coming to the city.
And the donations poured in: blankets, winter gear, food, even a wheelchair.
“In an hour we had about one thousand people that answered,” said one of the organizers.
A recent Ipsos poll for Global News shows Canadians are not fully on board with the idea of welcoming refugees into the country.
But people at the locker said initiatives like these don’t reflect recent polls.
“That is the image of the generosity of the Quebecois people,” said Sylvain Thibault pointing at piles upon piles of trash bags filled with donations. “So we can see that some people disagree with that.”
Thibault, who is in charge of the Syrian file at the Table de Concertation des Organismes au Service des Personnes Réfugiées et Immigrantes ( TCRI), said he is overwhelmed with the response of Montrealers.
“I receive an average of one email a minute and a phone call every two minutes of people who want to help.”
In fact much of the donations here have been collected over the span of a few years and were meant to be sent to refugee camps overseas. But now, these will be split up between them and newcomers to Canada.
Montrealers like Salam Chahine told Global News these initiatives are an opportunity to unite.
“They are coming here because they don’t like what’s happening in their country, they don’t like ISIS and we don’t either,” said Chahine.
“We’re in the same place, we think the same thing.”
© 2015 Shaw Media