UPDATED: Regina welcomes first Syrian refugees

REGINA – An eager crowd awaited the arrival of Regina’s first three Syrian refugees. Radi Al Bardan, Safaa Khamees, and their eight-month-old son Rida landed in the Queen City just before 7 p.m. Monday.

“Here it’s safe, it’s organized, and there it has been a lot of mess and it’s unsafe, and [we] are happy to be here,” Al Bardan said through an interpreter.
Saskatchewan Liberal MP Ralph Goodale, Mark Docerty (left), Sask Party MLA and Regina Mayor Mayor Michael Fougere greet Syrian refugees at the Regina International Airport on Dec. 21. David Baxter / Global News

Starting Tuesday, a case worker from the Regina Opens Door Society (RODS) will help them adjust to their new home.

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“Things like opening a bank account, going for groceries, making sure that they’re able to eat what they’re accustomed to eating and that type of thing,” RODS executive director Darcy Dietrich said.

Over the next six weeks, the Al Bardan family will be oriented into Canada. This will be helped by the outpouring of support that RODS has received in anticipation of the refugees’ arrival.

“We’ve received an overwhelming amount of support in terms of new volunteers, well over 250 new volunteers. Donations like we’ve never seen before,” Dietrich said.

The Al Bardan’s are the first of the anticipated 850 refugees coming to Regina as part of the Liberal government’s plan to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of February.

Public Safety Minister and Regina-Wascana MP Ralph Goodale was on hand to welcome the refugees, along with Regina Coronation Park MLA Mark Docherty and Mayor Michael Fougere.

Goodale said that now that the logistics are in place, it’s great to see refugees arrive in Regina.

“But now the people arrive, and that’s really the completion of the equation, although this is a small offering as the beginning of the process,” he said.

READ MORE: Syrian refugees arrive in Saskatoon

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Al Bardan and Khamees spent the past three years living in a Jordanian refugee camp, so this is the first home that their son Rida will live in that isn’t a camp.

“[I] feel so happy because there is a chance for my son to be educated, to live peacefully, and have a life here,” Al Bardan said.

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