‘Our life is running very well’: Syrian refugees settle in to life in Edmonton

Click to play video: 'Six months later: how Syrian refugees are settling in to life in Edmonton'
Six months later: how Syrian refugees are settling in to life in Edmonton
WATCH ABOVE: Hundreds of Syrian refugees are working to make Edmonton their new home. Aaron Streck sat down with one family and has more on how they've adapted over the past six months – Jul 1, 2016

Hundreds of Syrian refugees who have arrived in Edmonton in recent months continue to work to make the city their home.

“Our life is running very well .. it’s simple,” said Muammar Sawwan, something he hasn’t be able to say for a while.

Sawwan and his family arrived in Edmonton almost six months ago from Jordan, where they spent close to three years after fleeing war-torn Syria.

“It’s a good and new experience here in Canada for us. The people [are] just so helpful and help us in many things,” Sawwan said.

READ MORE: ‘I know what these people feel’: Syrian refugees help Fort McMurray wildfire evacuees

While Sawwan had a job in Jordan and his three boys were in school, he wanted more for his family.

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“It’s better for our children,” he said.

Muammar Sawwan’s children enjoying the snowfall in Jordan. Courtesy, Muammar Sawwan

The Sawwans were privately sponsored. The Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers has been one of several supports for the family as they settle in.

“I think by the end of the first month they have their footing in terms of, they opened a bank account, they have their SIN (Social Insurance Number) card, they’ve registered for language classes,” Suzanne Gross with the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers said.

Canada has welcomed a flood of Syrian refugees from among the hundreds of thousands displaced by civil war. Canada vowed to bring 25,000 refugees to this country by the end of February and another 25,000 by the end of the year.

“They have a memory of normal life, their country was intact until 2011, good health system, good education system, diversity, openness; all of that was part of their reality so they come here and recreate that very quickly,” Gross said.

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READ MORE: Canada commits to accepting 10,000 more Syrian refugees

The Sawwan family has done just that; English hasn’t been a major barrier but getting Muammar’s career in financing back on track has been a challenge.

“It’s not easy to find [a] job here,” he said, “because here in Canada they didn’t accept any other qualifications or certificates from other countries.”

“The biggest challenge is feeling like you’re back in the profession that gave you the life that you had before and some people are patient in those stepping stones and others are really, really eager to get back in,” Gross said.

Sawwan isn’t about to give up, he’s reminded daily by being with his family just how important this opportunity in Canada is.

More than 28,600 Syrian refugees have arrived since Nov. 4, settling in 296 communities across Canada.

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