From chaos to hope: A Syrian family’s unfinished journey
People often forget that there is only one “race”, the human race. The Bulletin met with an immigrant family in Hull, and was greeted by smiling faces. Originally from Syria, they now have a future to look forward to. They lived through the Syrian civil war’s worst atrocities, and, like many Syrian families, had no choice but to leave their home and native country.
The Aslan family arrived in Canada in 2016, empty handed, speaking neither English nor French. Their linguistic progress since arrival is amazing. Jacques Laberge, a former diplomat, helped the family upon their arrival in Gatineau. Mr Laberge is the spokesperson for a refugee support committee in Gatineau, the Comité de soutien auprès des réfugiés syriens accueillis à Gatineau (CSRS). The group was created in 2016 when a large number of Syrians found refuge in Canada, and has helped 70 Syrian families settle here. “When Quebeckers have the opportunity to talk directly with immigrant families, it does a lot in terms or reassurance,” says Mr Laberge. “They have the same motivations, the same dreams, as we all do.”
One family’s moving and inspiring story
Five of the six members of the Aslan family left Syria for Gatineau. Cihad Aslan, 45 years old, and his wife Ceyda Hasan, 43, now live here with three children, Hussein, Mohamad and Suad. Suad, 18, is studying at École secondaire de l’Île. Her two brothers work at the Amiral restaurant on Alexandre-Taché Boulevard. Suad herself is now able to help refugees by offering Arabic-French translations to any who do not speak French. Ceyda had been working at a laundry business before it closed, and is now seeking a new job, preferably in a restaurant. As for Cihad, he is a Uber taxi driver.
The family believes in sharing the benefits of volunteering -- they helped fill sand bags during the 2017 floods and family members assisted with the Fête de l’amitié, a show to support Gatineau’s Syrian refugees, January 27. Cynthia Baroud, La Voix 2014 finalist, performed.
In the midst of the Syrian war, the family walked 60 kilometres to find refuge in Turkey, where they stayed for 5 years in a refugee camp. “Coming to Canada made us so happy because we were starting a new life,” comments Cihad. But Sundos (23), one of the couple’s daughters, is still living in Lebanon with her husband and two children. She had fled Syria in 2011, but still lacks good living conditions. They are able to survive thanks to money sent by Cihad and Ceyda. More than anything, both families want to reunite in Gatineau in a near future.
A GoFundMe page to bring their daughter to Gatineau
A group of citizens has come together to reunite Sundos with the rest of her family. It has been seven years since they last met in person. They regularly have phone conversations and WhatsApp communications. A GoFundMe page (Help reunite the Aslan family in Gatineau) is now public on the Internet.
These funds will be used to help Sundos and Bassel “reimburse the loan they will need to contract with the government of Canada to pay for their transportation costs between Beirut and Gatineau (approximately $6,000), the cost of their future apartment rental for one year (approximately $800/month, for a total of $9,600) and living expenses for the family for approximately eight months ($500/month, for a total of $4,000).” Their hopes are for a full family reunion in 2021, although immigration files always move with a bit of uncertainty.
Once the whole family is reunited, they plan on launching a restaurant in the area. (Trans.: CB)