December 28, 2015 8:00 pm
Updated: December 29, 2015 11:01 am

Syrian refugee working to transition to life in Saskatoon

WATCH ABOVE: A Saskatoon immigration program works to help educate newcomers on how to partake in everyday activities that could confuse them upon arrival. Joel Senick reports.


SASKATOON – Coming to Canada after spending two years as a refugee in Lebanon was a “very good dream,” according to a Syrian refugee who is settling into a new life in Saskatoon.

Alaa El Din arrived in the city with his wife and two kids on Dec. 19. He was among the first Syrian refugees to be resettled in Saskatoon as part of the government’s plan to bring 25,000 to Canada by the end of February.

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El Din spoke to Global News through an interpreter Monday afternoon. He indicated his gratitude for those who showed up at the airport to greet he and other Syrians.

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“He [cried] … because they make a very, very good welcome for him and all the Syrian families,” said Abeir El Damassy, who served as an interpreter for El Din.

“He [wants] to say thank you,” she added.

El Din and his family are from the western Syrian city of Homs. Now they must adjust to life in Saskatoon, with the help of local refugee service organizations.

“Most of the Syrian families, they came from urban environments so they are familiar with most of the things we have here, it’s just the way that we do things is a little different here,” said Sol Barrones, a life skills coordinator at Saskatoon’s Global Gathering Place.

The program is being utilized by El Din and his family. Barrones said everyday activities, like taking the bus or buying groceries, can cause confusion for newcomers. The group works with newcomers shortly after they arrive in Saskatoon.

“We spend time with them, it’s a hands on training program and we do a lot of demonstration to show them how to do the things,” Barrones said.

The program could help new Canadians like El Din, who admitted that starting a new life in an unfamiliar land is nerve-racking at times.

“He told me yes, it’s totally different than Syria, but he [hopes] he will be part of the Canadian people here,” El Din said through the translator.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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