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

Update: North Beach clam harvest closed due to PSP biotoxin

Marine biotoxin results in closure for all bivalve harvesting from Wiah Point to Rose Spit

In Pictures: Rock the Plank! brings in the booty

Pirate-themed skate party raises $2,500 for new Masset Skate Society

Haida Gwaii fishing grounds are key to survival of northern resident killer whales: DFO

Plan marks waters from Langara to Rose Spit as critical habitat for northern resident killer whales

Masset suggests a simpler structure for Gwaii Trust

Change would parallel existing municipal, regional district representation for non-Haida communities

Grade 9s on Gwaii Haanas trip visit “the best spot on Haida Gwaii”

Now in its fourth year, Grade 9 trip gives Haida Gwaii youth a chance to visit Tanu and Windy Bay

Here’s what you need to know about Day 1 at the BC Games

All 18 events kick off on the track, riding ring, fields, courts and lake in the Cowichan Valley

VIDEO: How to throw a frisbee

Ultimate frisbee player Amy Mackay shows off the proper technique

Site C dam project plagued by problems: expert

E. Harvey Elwin expresses concern about internal BC Hydro and government documents

Seal attacks kayakers in the Broughton Archipelago

“It has to be one chance in a million of this happening.”

Victoria-area park sign removed after glitch redirects to porn site

Resident looking to learn more about workout equipment discovered the problem code

Special Olympic athletes take on BC Games during special anniversary

Known as the Global Day of Inclusion, July 20 marks the first Special Olympics in 1968 in Chicago

Scammers dressed as Mounties threaten to arrest senior if she doesn’t cough up cash

Pair of fraudulent officers threaten to arrest 90-year-old woman

Fundraiser to help mom of jogger detained after crossing U.S. border

Cedella Roman, 19, was held in U.S. after accidentally crossing border in South Surrey

Okanagan Wildfires: The latest on wildfires and evacuations

A Friday morning look at the major wildfires impact the Okanagan and Similkameen.

Most Read