Refugees join community

Syrian relief: Two new families make Salmon Arm their home

At home on the pitch: Hussam Alhassan plays keep-away with his son Barakat during the Shuswap Youth Soccerfest at the SASCU Memorial Complex indoor field on Saturday, March 5.

At home on the pitch: Hussam Alhassan plays keep-away with his son Barakat during the Shuswap Youth Soccerfest at the SASCU Memorial Complex indoor field on Saturday, March 5.

Eleven Syrians have now found refuge in Salmon Arm.

More will be coming, but Ottawa has made changes to the refugee program, which has delayed their arrival.

Shuswap Rotary’s family arrived just over two weeks ago – a dad, pregnant mom and three children, ages seven, five and three, says Shuswap Refugee Coalition head Brian Ayotte.

“The older one is in Bastion and doing very well, learning the ABCs,” Ayotte says.

When they arrived, three of the children were sick with high fevers. Mustafa Zakreet, Salmon Arm’s first Syrian refugee, came to the rescue, providing translation for the doctor.

Another family with three children sponsored by Shuswap Community Church arrived two weeks ago Thursday.

Now that Ottawa has reached its 25,000 target, priorities and the system have changed, Ayotte says, suspecting attempts are being made to clear away a backlog of refugees in large centres, where many are housed in hotels and not being integrated into community.

“We never know what’s going on; there’s at least three other organizations waiting for families – St. Joseph’s, First United and Broadview/Lakeside, and we know we’re in the process because we have file numbers,” Ayotte says. “Those three are imminent. Does that mean next week or the end of the month? I would think it’s in that range.”

Ayotte says Deo Lutheran and Cornerstone Church have been caught in the rewriting of the regulations and  might have to look at new government channels to go through.

 

Salmon Arm Observer