Fredericton tattoo artist donates 25 bikes to newcomers

Click to play video: 'Fredericton-area tattoo artist purchases bikes for young newcomers' Fredericton-area tattoo artist purchases bikes for young newcomers
WATCH: The bikes were given out Saturday afternoon and brought smiles to the two dozen children who received one. Silas Brown has more – Apr 17, 2021

Twenty-five young newcomers received bicycles on Saturday thanks to the efforts of a Fredericton tattoo artist.

“It’s one of those things for kids, you know, you spend your childhood on a bike — we did as kids. It’s good to get the kids out of the house, it’s good for mental health,” said Joey Saindon, the owner of Sacred Owl Tattoos.

The bikes were given out at the Fredericton Multicultural Association on Saturday afternoon following a bike safety course.

Read more: New Brunswick aims to increase number of newcomers within five years

Many of those receiving bikes have arrived in Canada through the federal government’s refugee assistance program over the last year.

Ahmad Faisal Hussain arrived from Syria in February.

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“He said he’s so happy, it’s a great feeling,” he said through an interpreter.

Delia Irakoze and Delicia Iteriteka are recent arrivals from Burundi.

“They are very happy and they can’t wait till they go outside and start to bike,” Irakoze said through an interpreter.

Click to play video: 'Moncton refugee using bikes to give back' Moncton refugee using bikes to give back
Moncton refugee using bikes to give back – May 20, 2016

A common theme from those receiving bikes was how thrilled they were to see support coming from their new community.

“Yeah, for this, you can’t see the big smile I have on my face, I feel really happy,” said Katherin Cerrato.

Cerrato arrived from Honduras a year and a half ago and had been planning on saving up for her own bike. Now that she has one, she’s excited to cruise along the Bill Thorpe walking bridge.

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“If you see over the lake, I always see people travel over it. I want to go in the forest. I want to go on the lake,” she said.

Read more: Record number of permanent residents settled in New Brunswick in 2019: data

The Multicultural Association has a yearly bike program where they fix up and give out used bikes. Last summer they gave out 78 in total, but executive director Lisa Bamford De Gante says this donation puts them well ahead where they would normally be.

“This really gave a head start at the beginning of the season,” she said.

“And brand new bikes purchased just for them.”

Saindon said he tries to do some sort of fundraiser every six months, a habit that started after a heart attack left him unable to work for three months.

“The tattoo community came together as well as my clients and they all did fundraisers for my family and it helped a lot,” Saindon said.

“It just made me want to give back to the community more after seeing that.”

Click to play video: 'Local bike shop owner talks about the state of the bicycle boom' Local bike shop owner talks about the state of the bicycle boom
Local bike shop owner talks about the state of the bicycle boom – Apr 7, 2021

The money was raised through a square buying give away, where people could purchase a square for $25 for the chance at winning a day’s worth of tattooing, worth about $800.

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Saindon said along with additional donations he was able to raise $4,000. He said it was a little tricky getting his hands on bikes, as sellers are impacted by a global shortage.

Bamford De Gante says bikes are a critical piece of support for newcomers, who often lack transportation when they arrive.

“It’s that freedom and that autonomy and also to be able to move around the city and to be at events,” she said.

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