Young Syrian refugee and Immigration Minister reunite over painting

The Star - Hamza Ali, 13, remembers clearly the day last November when a trio of Canadian cabinet ministers, including Immigration Minister John McCallum, trooped into an ad-hoc art gallery set up in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

Ottawa - Federal politicians meet a lot of people, but Syrian children don’t meet a lot of federal politicians - let alone the same one twice, in two different countries, each a world apart from the other.

Hamza Ali, 13, remembers clearly the day last November when a trio of Canadian cabinet ministers trooped into an ad-hoc art gallery set up in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

Ali, one of the artists, shook the ministers’ hands and explained the concept behind his gripping paintings of women and men struggling with life and the war in Syria.

Immigration Minister John McCallum told Ali he was struck by the symbolism of a painting showing a woman carrying a map of Syria on her back up a flight of stairs, a heavy red sky in the background.

“Women do all the heavy lifting,” McCallum remarked.

That painting now hangs in Health Minister Jane Philpott’s office in Ottawa. McCallum didn’t have one — until Monday.