In Shannon’s Opinion: Welcome, Syrians!

Shannon Lough explains why we should welcome our new residents.

A Syrian family of seven arrived in Prince Rupert last Friday due to the hard work and enthusiasm of the Rupert Syrian Refugee Support group. The Canadian population in general was what drove the campaign to bring more than 25,000 refugees from Syria and resettle them in communities across the country.

What can we do to make them feel at home in this rainy coastal city? I have been in a similar situation. I’ve lived in a rural community where I didn’t speak the language or understand the culture.

My advice is to include the newcomers in everything this community has to offer. They can always say ‘no’ if they’re tired or overwhelmed.

When I was living in northern India, the Tibetan refugee community I was in had a girl around my age come to live with me. She would greet me as the sun set and we’d cook dinner together — more like she’d show me how to make chapati (flat bread) and how to use a pressure cooker to make dahl (lentil soup). Then she’d stay over to make sure I was safe ­— I was travelling on my own — and when the sun rose in the morning she’d leave for the day.

I never felt lonely, and although the invites and company was a bit too much at times, I never felt isolated. Let’s help the Syrians feel welcome too.