Canadian support pours in for newly-arrived refugees overcoming obstacles
Monday, January 18, 2016

Minelle Mahtani is a talk show host for a Vancouver radio station who usually confines herself to commenting on the news. But learning of the struggles of newly-arrived Syrian refugees in a nearby hotel propelled her out the door on the weekend.

Dozens of Canadians responded to recent stories in The Globe and Mail with offers to help the newcomers overcome some of the challenges they face to putting down roots in Canada. With her toddler in her arms, Ms. Mahtani talked her way past the protective hotel staff to knock on the door of one of the guest rooms, determined to meet one of the families and deliver direct assistance.

“You can hear the kids laughing and playing and when they open the door, there are five beautiful children beaming up at me,” she recounted in an interview Monday. She handed over an envelope with cash, along with a colouring book and markers. One boy approached her two-and-a-half-year-old son. “He touched his face so gently – they connected on a heart-to-heart level.”

Jenny Kwan, the New Democratic Party immigration critic, said her office has been inundated with offers from Canadians in response to news stories about the acute needs of the refugees. She’s heard from employers with job offers, landlords with rental accommodation, and tutors wanting to provide free English lessons.

Ms. Kwan met with some of the new arrivals and told them of the supportive offers.

“They are so very thankful for the response from Canadians, from the incredible welcome when they first arrived and now the way so many Canadians are stepping up on their own to offer support,” Ms. Kwan said. “They know they are not alone. That’s who we are. This has highlighted the spirit of Canadians.”

Fifteen people contacted The Globe offering financial assistance to Ebraheem Abo-Khoroj, a Syrian-born refugee who arrived in Vancouver on Nov. 17 but did not receive the paperwork he requires to work or study in Canada. He was told he needed to pay $550 for the documents that are supposed to be offered to refugees on their arrival.


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Source: Globe and Mail