New year, new country, new life for Syrian refugees in Edmonton

EDMONTON – The beginning of the New Year is the beginning of a new life for Mohamad Mawed and members of his extended family.

Mawed, 46, has been living in Edmonton for almost two years. Originally from Syria, he arrived in Canada in 2012 as a landed immigrant.

However, the horrors of the civil war in Syria were never far from his mind. Many of his relatives lived in Damascus but soon fled to other countries, like Lebanon, Germany or Denmark, for safety.

In June, Mawed was able to bring his brother’s family of six to Edmonton; they currently live in a house in Westmount.

Then on New Year’s Eve, Mawed’s sister, niece, her husband and their two children arrived in the City of Champions.

It is the first time in approximately four years that Mawed, his brother and his sister have been in the same city.

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“At least I see my family after some time, after a long time. For this reason, this year is a very big difference for me.”

Mawed lives in an apartment near his brother and they plan to find a house or townhouse nearby for his sister and his niece’s family.

After years apart, he is excited for his family to live in the same neighbourhood.

“We can see each other. We can care about each other. At least I see them on the safe side. I’m worried all the time about [that] something is happening to them in Syria during the war.”

His sister, 64-year-old Somya Mawed, is grateful to be in Canada.

“[It’s been a] long time [we] don’t see each other. This day is very important for us because we [are] coming to meet each other and live together and we come back to normal as before,” she said through a translator.
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Somya said the safety and security of being in Canada is comforting for herself and her daughter’s family.

“The war has left us feeling we [are] not even safe. We [lose] other things [during the war]. We come back to the beginning to build our life but we have hope because we come to Canada. Canada has respect [for] human rights for the people,” she said.

Though she has only been in Edmonton for three days, Somya said the biggest differences thus far are the weather and the stillness in the city.

Her daughter Linda Almoued, 35, arrived in Edmonton with her husband Basem Alabd Alrahim and her daughters Inanna, five-years-old, and Alesar, nine-years-old.

She said life in Damascus was often difficult because she worried about the safety of her young daughters and the bombing often made the city unsafe for the family.

The family of four fled to Lebanon and stayed there for six months before coming to Edmonton.

The family plans to send Inanna and Alesar to school as soon as possible. Julia Wong/Global News

Almoued said they have big plans for 2016.

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“[I’m] planning to learn English, send [my] daughters to school, find a job, find a home and be in a stable life,” she said.

Almoued smiles when asked what she thinks about the snow and the cold in Edmonton.

She said the family had heard about the city’s long and snowy winters but said the weather is of no difference to her – she is just happy that her family will now have some stability in their lives.

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