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Syrian refugees embrace Winnipeg community after messages of hate

New Canadians hang balloons on a fence that was painted with racist graffiti in September. Timm Bruch / Global News

A small gesture of thanks from a group of Syrian refugee families turned into a community party on Saturday.

A free barbecue hosted by the families was thrown at a complex where many live in the North End as a way to give back to the city that they say has helped them so much.

Dozens of Syrians lined the front yard of a Winnipeg residence welcoming all with tables, chairs, Syrian food and traditional music.

Nour Ali, a refugee who was one of the organizers of the event, said the day is just one of many ways to become more in-tune with the neighbourhood.

“We’re always thinking about how we can connect the old people who have been here for years and the new people that just arrived,” Ali said. “Why not do some small event just to thank everyone?”

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READ MORE: ‘I want help please’ Syrian refugee family scared after racist graffiti and threats

The barbecue comes less than a month after racist graffiti was found painted on the fence of the host home, a message of hate telling the refugees to leave Canada.

But on Saturday, the families said they’re ready to forgive and move on, and were all grateful just to be in Winnipeg.

“They feel like Canada is their country more than many people because they need that country,” Ali said. “They never had a country.”

READ MORE: Former refugee speaks about racism faced almost daily in Winnipeg

The fence is now re-painted, and where the graffiti once was, on Saturday, held red and white balloons.

“One time I asked an old man how can I give back? And he said, ‘You don’t give back, you give forward.'”

“I believe we should all come together because I think we’re all strong together,” Ali said. “[This will help] some communication between the old community and the new community.”
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