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Safe – new Canadians arrive

The first of Syrian families to arrive in Dufferin County, Emad and Razan Alhajali and their two young children, eight year old Fatema and seven year old Hamoudi arrived safe in Dufferin County December 14th after a 30 hour journey from Jordan. For four years, the young family took refuge in a relative's home with several other families after fleeing the war in Syria. They were met at Pearson Airport by Brian and Philomena Logel who spearheaded the Headwater Refugee Sponsorship Committee that has worked tirelessly to insure their safety.
The Alhajali's are just four of the 25,000 new Canadians expected to arrive out of Syria in the next few months. Their journey from fear to safety has been long and hard, but finally, they and other Syrians are being met with joy and open hearts across Canada.
Here in Dufferin, many express shame for inhospitable and anti Syrian comments on- line, as well as for our Federal MP David Tilson who continues to fan the flames of fear he stoked as a member of the Harper Conservatives in the October election. Tilson presented a petition with an alleged 65 Dufferin signatures in the House of Commons December 7th demanding an emergency debate on the Liberal government's plans to expediently resettle Syrian immigrants in Canada. This request comes despite winter falling upon an estimated 9 million Syrians who have fled there homes since the war began in 2011.
The Alhajali family appeared healthy and happy Wednesday afternoon as they met local press at the home of Brian and Philemena Logel. The children were cozy in donated snow suits and ran to get Dad a hat when he stood out doors in the chilly weather with reporters. Brain Logel told the press that young Hamoudi and Fatema were “incredibly patient children.” The two little ones have spent more than half their lives waiting for war to end.
Before the conflict in Syria, Emad was in construction and Razan was a nurse. Their first focus will be on improving their English in order to work and integrate the children into the Ontario school system. The family is staying with the Logels while their townhouse is being prepared by the sponsorship group in Orangeville. The group is responsible for helping the Alhajalis with their rent as part of the $30,000 required to bring the family to Canada.
Philomena Logel said donations to help the family with their food budget would probably be the most helpful thing people could give if they would like to help. Donations can be made through Westminster Church in Orangeville – by making a note that the funds are for the Headwater Refugee Sponsorship Committee.
The family is still learning English, but the universal language of a grateful handshake from Emad, a warm embrace from Razan, and the shy smiles of the children said more than words. However, there was one phrase they repeated many times: “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
Prime Minister Trudeau told Canadians this week, “Fear will not keep us safe.” It is likely, that many, if not most of us, somewhere in the recesses of our consciousness, harbour flickers of fear for the sweeping changes and challenges of the new global village. It is what we do with that fear that makes us who we are. Canada was built on the diversity of our immigrant ancestors, most of whom left their lands out of some form of injustice or destitution just as these families do now. We need only acknowledge that there is more that unites us as human beings than separates us as cultures to see that our deepest connection to these 25,000 new Canadians is that which we value most: love of family…and the instinctive need to protect them and keep them safe.

By Marni Walsh
Post date: 2015-12-22 15:45:46
Post date GMT: 2015-12-22 20:45:46
Post modified date: 2016-01-07 15:47:34
Post modified date GMT: 2016-01-07 20:47:34
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