Islands welcome first refugees from Syria

Sandspit is the first islands community to welcome refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria.

Sandspit welcomed Haida Gwaii’s first Syrian refugees last week—Enes and Magdalena Said, who arrived June 29. The core sponsorship group in Sandspit were in the midst of building the couple their own cabin and were caught off-guard when they received an email on June 23 saying the couple would be arriving in less than a week.

“We never actually received notification that we had been approved to sponsor them,” said sponsor Laura Pattison in a Facebook post.

Nonetheless, the sponsorship group in Sandspit was happy to get the news and quickly found alternate housing for the couple until the cabin is completed.

“They will be moving in with one of the sponsors for the first few weeks, as we complete a guest cabin that we are currently constructing for them,” Pattison told the Observer.

Enes and Magdalena are originally from Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, but have been living in Turkey for more than a year.

The young couple were greeted by a small welcome party in Sandspit.

“We were excited to learn that they do speak some English, so we have been able to communicate without too much help from Google Translate. We also had invaluable assistance on the arrival day from Mukhtar Issa, who is a fantastic translator,” said Pattison. The couple has already started fine-tuning their English, with the help of their new neighbour, Emmy O’Gorman.

“They are very happy to be here, although of course they are still a bit overwhelmed and jet-lagged,” said Pattison.

“We’re excited for them to meet everyone in the community once they’ve had a chance to settle in.”

Sandspit residents Laura Pattison, Heron Wier, Civa Gauthier, Behn Cochrane and Evan Putterill have been the driving force for the Sandspit refugee sponsorship.

“All of us grew up here on Haida Gwaii and are very excited to share this place with new residents,” said Pattison.  The group of five will be responsible for the couple’s basic needs for the next year, or until they find work.

It has been found that the couple does have family elsewhere in Canada and it is not clear how long the young couple will stay in Sandspit.

“Now that they have safely arrived, I’m confident that they will find a warm welcome and lots of support here in Sandspit and the rest of the islands,” said Pattison.


Just Posted

December windstorms led to record ferry cancellations

Baileys for breakfast? It may not be what the doctor ordered, but… Continue reading

RCMP to review actions at Wet’suwet’en pipeline protest camps

Senior Mountie says he hopes protests will be peaceful following deal with hereditary chiefs

On the Wing: Christmas Bird Count #4 — Skidegate Inlet

By Margo Hearne The marine forecast read “winds northwest 15 to 25… Continue reading

Haida Gwaii mountain biking gets in gear

The frost was gone, but the iced puddles on Mac Blo Road… Continue reading

Letters: A thank-you and update from Hooterville

First and foremost, I wish to express my gratitude to the many… Continue reading

VIDEO: Car flies across median, flips over edge of B.C. overpass

Dash cam footage shows vehicle speeding across Brunette Avenue overpass in Coquitlam

Indigenous energy summit includes session on pipeline ownership options

Steven Saddleback of the Indian Resource Council says a session will feature presentations on financing models

Japanese grand champion Kisenosato retires from sumo

The 32-year-old Kisenosato was the first Japanese-born wrestler in 19 years to gain promotion to sumo’s highest rank

UPDATE: Accused B.C. high school killer found fit to stand trial

Gabriel Klein is accused in the 2016 stabbing death of Letisha Reimer at Abbotsford Senior Secondary

Right-wing, neo-Nazi, white supremacist groups an increasing concern: Goodale

Ten people died in April 2018 when Alek Minassian allegedly drove a rental van down the busy stretch in Toronto

Canadian stock exchanges to conduct lottery for ‘POT’ ticker amid high demand

The symbol became available after fertilizer Potash Corp. officially merged with Agrium Inc. in early 2018

Millennial Money: Don’t let Instagram envy get you into debt

A full 48 per cent of U.S. households have credit card debt

Jury debates fate of man accused of killing 12-year-old B.C. girl 40 years ago

Police allege Garry Handlen told a cop how he abducted, sexually assaulted and strangled Monica Jack in May 1978

Most Read