Updates

City of Markham understands how important it is for you and your family to get to know the new community you have recently moved to.

To assist you in learning about your community, we have developed the One Family program. This program is an opportunity for families to come together with other Syrian families who are also living in Markham, to share experiences, access community information and participate in a planned activity.

Agenda:
2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Sharing and Information Session
4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. Family Swim

Activities will include a family swim, so please bring your bathing suits.

Date: Saturday, July 23, 2016
Time: 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Location:
Cornell Community Centre and Library,
3201 Bur Oak Avenue, Markham

In order for us to plan ahead, we ask that you confirm your attendance by contacting Brieanna Gabbard at 905-477-7000 ext. 3670 or by e-mail: bgabbard@markham.ca

Posted: 07/13/2016 - 15:08

Global News Winnipeg - A federal government grant provided through the Immigration Refugee Citizenship in Canada (IRCC) has given 22 Syrian refugees currently living in Winnipeg the chance to spend a week at the University of Manitoba.

Adults will spend the day learning English language skills through the extended education program, while children (ages 4-16) will be exploring their adventurous sides at Mini-U.

“We picked up all the families and children on a bus, drove them to campus and will be driving them back at the end of the day,” said Jay Gamey, director of programming for Mini-U.

During the day, the children will partake in our Minu-U programs, things like dodgeball, basketball, soccer and science, while the adults take different types of programming through extended education.”

Lasting from July 11 until July 22, both programs offer the refugees a chance to begin integration within the community, which is particularly critical for the children.

Posted: 07/13/2016 - 14:32

CNW Toronto - To continue the warm Canadian welcome that started at the airport for the 56 flights that landed as part of the Government of Canada's Syrian Refugee Program, Toronto Pearson International Airport launched the Propeller Project Syrian Newcomer Transit Pass Program.

This program used funds collected from passengers and employees in the in-terminal coin globes from December to March and matched them through Toronto Pearson's Propeller Project to provide transit passes for the government-sponsored Syrian Refugees who have settled in the GTA, both those who have already arrived and those who will continue arrive through the rest of 2016. 

Why transit passes? Easy access to transportation is essential for Syrian newcomers to be able to access important programming and essential tools, as well as build fulfilling, independent lives in Canada.

Posted: 07/11/2016 - 16:15

Maclean’s - From a lonely existence as refugees to joy and community in Peterborough.

In Peterborough, Ontario - home to a few thousand of those YouTube clicks, at the very least—a 13-year-old girl is dancing in her living room, mimicking the moves from the video. Her name is Ansam Al-Debaijel, and she’s a few days away from finishing Grade 7. “Now watch me whip!” she sings, bobbing up and down in dark-blue jeans and a grey hijab. “Now watch me nae nae!” Her curly-haired little sister, nine-year-old Dalya, follows along beside her.

“Sometimes I still feel like it’s a dream,” she says.

It’s hard to blame her. Six months ago, this family of Syrian refugees—a single mother and her three kids—was holed up in a tiny, squalid apartment in Lebanon, their latest stop after years on the run (first from their home city of Homs, obliterated by Syria’s civil war, then from Islamic State-controlled territory in the north). After crossing into Lebanon in 2014, they survived largely on the generosity of friends and relatives. If the children ate a meal, it was a good day.

Posted: 07/05/2016 - 10:47

Times Colonist - The tough thing about observing Ramadan in a northern country: You can’t eat or drink until sunset, but sunset isn’t until 9:19 p.m. today.

That’s an hour and half later than back in Syria.

No problem, say Osama and Hanadi Shelleh. Fasting here is easy. It’s cooler in Victoria. When you do turn on the tap, you know water will flow out. There’s electricity, not like the dark days when Hanadi had to cook outside over an open fire — that is, when she could find food.

Most of all, Canada is safe.

The biggest surprise for the Shellehs? How much support they found here. How welcoming Canadians have been. How diverse it is, and how respectful people are of each other’s beliefs. Maybe they make us sound better than we really are. Or maybe they got it right.

Posted: 07/05/2016 - 10:28

The Globe and Mail Toronto - Ms. Fakhereddin arrived in Toronto just a week ago to join her son, who has been here a year. The two are Syrian refugees sponsored by members of the United Church of Canada, and they are keenly aware that they haven’t gone through the hardships that many others in the kitchen have, most of whom are on government assistance.

Len Senater runs the Depanneur, an informal kitchen in Toronto’s Annex area hosting culinary experiments of all kind. His newest project was founded on a simple idea: bringing Syrian women into a large, shared kitchen so that they could cook meals for their families while they were stuck in hotels on arrival.

In the few weeks since it began, the idea has expanded into a weekly pop-up event, made open to the public.

“By leveraging the popularity of pop-up dining, we’re clearing the path to the amazing latent talent that is in this community, so they can find a way to monetize their skills in a way that is dignified and equitable,” Mr. Senater says.

Posted: 07/04/2016 - 14:13

TheStar Toronto - Mohamad Saer Alashmooty celebrates with his Grade 8 class an event he could only dream of just 5 months ago, when he arrived in Canada as a refugee.

He’s here, yet still seems somewhat apart: the Syrian boy who had the bad luck to land in a tight-knit Canadian Grade 8 class during its final year — but the good fortune to have come to this country at all.

Five months after Mohamad Saer Alashmooty arrived in a wave of 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada, the 14-year-old sits alone, separated by language, as classmates grab selfies together before their graduation ceremony at Scarborough’s Military Trail Public School.

It can take time to truly belong.

But then classmate Rahim Saleem comes over and grabs his hand, “to come join in the fun,” he said. “We want him to take pictures with us and not feel lonely.”

So maybe it doesn’t take that long after all.

These are the up-and-down rhythms of becoming a Canadian when you have come from a war zone.

Like many young refugees, Mohamad Saer has had little schooling because of the civil war. He does not read or write in Arabic — he was last in school when he was just 8 — so he is in a special LEAP class (Literacy Enrichment Academic Program) for part of each day, for students with major gaps in their learning.

Posted: 07/04/2016 - 13:22

CBC News Newfoundland - The wet, rainy shores of Newfoundland are being embraced 'like a dream' by the eldest member of a Syrian family seeking refuge in the province.

Talika Morjan, a Syrian grandmother who finished a 4,500 kilometre journey to the island on Thursday, says she's blown away by the first hours of her new life in her new home.

"I'm very, very, very happy," she told CBC Radio's On the Go, through her translator Naz Faidullah.

On Friday morning, her first full day in Canada, she headed to a grocery store.

"[It's] something amazing."

"More than [I] could imagine," she said. "A dream."

Lewisporte Bound

Morjan is the first of her family to arrive in Newfoundland. Her son, daughter-in-law and their two children are hoping to join her in Lewisporte, their final destination.

The family will be staying with Reverend Stephanie McClellan, a United Church minister in the town, who renovated a basement apartment to suit the newcomers.

Posted: 07/04/2016 - 12:06

CBC News Nova Scotia - A pair of Syrian sisters, who left the Middle East as refugees, are continuing to work as journalists and covering Syrian news from their new home in Nova Scotia.

Raja Salim, 32, left Syria for Lebanon four years ago, and worked on film documentaries about Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. She said the situation in Lebanon became dangerous for her because she didn't have legal residency there, and would have no protection from the courts if anything happened to her. She fled to Turkey in 2014, where she was joined by her sister, Safa.

Safa, 30, launched her own journalism career in Turkey, working in news and as a photo editor.

The situation for journalists in Turkey at that time was "really terrible," Raja said.

N.S. was best solution

When the opportunity to move to Nova Scotia as privately sponsored refugees arose, the sisters jumped at the chance. They arrived about a month ago.

Both Raja and Safa Salim continue to cover Syrian news from Nova Scotia, contributing to a Syrian news website called Smart News Agency.

Posted: 07/04/2016 - 11:51

The London Press - Maria Shalash is a typical London teen. She attends church on Sunday, drinks black coffee from Tim Hortons and tutors her siblings in high school. What sets Shalash apart from other 19-year-olds is her eagerness to learn Canada’s national anthem by Friday.

“I want to be Canadian,” she said. “I want to learn the national anthem.”

After losing her father to cancer in the midst of the deadly war in Syria that has displaced more than 11 million people since 2011, Shalash left Damascus in the fall of 2015 with her mother Rima and two younger siblings.

Months later, the mourning family reunited with loved ones in London after they were sponsored by Byron United Church that had also sponsored Rima’s younger twin sisters Rasha and Rihab a year prior.

Maria Shalash’s family is among 1,000 Syrian refugees who have poured into London since Canada began settling more than 27,000 refugees last December. London’s refugee intake is third highest among Ontario cities.

Posted: 06/30/2016 - 10:24

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