Syrian refugees show gratitude as one year anniversary fast approaches
CALGARY – Syrian refugees living in Calgary walked through the snow and slush with big smiles on their faces Monday.
“I tell my friends we have snow here, they say ‘what?!’,” Nour Yassin laughed. The grade 12 student wore a large black parka as she made her way to Calgary’s snow-covered Peace Bridge.
Yassin arrived in Calgary at the beginning of February along with five of her sisters and her parents. She’s now enrolled at Henry Wise Wood High School and has made big strides in a short amount of time, studying hard to learn English.
“I’m taking ESL (English as a Second Language) and Science 15. I’m so happy for this.”
On Thanksgiving Monday, dozens of Calgary’s newcomers gathered for the ‘2nd Annual Walk to Support Refugees’ to show their gratitude.
This year’s walk was much different than the one held last October — and it’s not just the weather.
“It felt great last year to be part of something that needed to be done,” Reverend Dr. Daniella Ayana James with Hillhurst United Church explained. “This year is special because we actually have Syrian newcomers to Calgary walking in the walk with us.”
And many of Monday’s participants still have family members in war torn Syria.
“Every single day, these newcomers, when they turn their TV on it is a struggle for them, because they see what’s happening at home. It’s something they can never forget and Syria is always on their mind,” said Saima Jamal, a co-ordinator for the Syrian Refugee Support Group.
Adding to their worries, a deadline looms ahead. In a few short months many refugees will mark their one year anniversary in Canada and that means government funding will stop.
“There’s several Syrian families in that position where the year is coming to an end and so many of them need to find work and that’s going to be one of the next hurdles and opportunities for Calgary,” said Ayana James.
Despite these challenges, Yassin knows she has a lot to be thankful for.
Hillhurst United Church has the paperwork in to bring her brother, Thaer, over from Lebanon.
“I’m thankful for good life and for good home. I’m thankful for it all.”