The first Syrian refugee family arrived in Prince Rupert this Friday and are getting settled in their environment.
When the Rupert Syrian Refugee Support (RSRS) group received confirmation of their flight details they had a last minute meeting to ensure the family had a small delegation to greet them at the airport and bring them to their new home.
“We’re checking to make sure we have everything for them,” said John Farrell, the chair of the RSRS group.
The family of seven speak Arabic, but there are few other details known, such as if they speak any other languages. The father has worked as an electrician and a baker. There are four boys aged 16, 15, 13 and seven and an 11-year-old girl. Once the family arrives, they will be permanent residents of Canada.
Seventeen volunteers met at the Lutheran Church on Tuesday evening to discuss what is still needed. The group has worked hard to furnish a home and prepare it for the family to move into — rent free for the first year.
The support group doesn’t want to overwhelm the family when they first arrive, so they’re asking the community for some privacy.
“Give them a few days to decompress and then build their circle of support. Once they settle, then move towards integration,” said Brett Kuntz, program manager of immigration and settlement services at Hecate Strait.
However, they won’t be isolated or left to their own devices. A calendar will be created to ensure someone from the group visits the family each day to make them feel welcome and cared for by the community.
The national humanitarian effort to resettle Syrian refugees in Canada began last fall, and since then the group has worked towards this day of successfully sponsoring a family in Prince Rupert. The conflict in Syria began in March 2011, which has resulted in more than 4.8 million Syrian refugees, according to the United Nations.
The Rupert Syrian Refugee Support group aims to bring three families to the North Coast. Late June, the group discovered the first family would arrive sometime between mid-summer and fall.
Classes have only just begun in the school district, and the support group is going to register the young Syrians into elementary, middle and high school once they arrive. Farrell said they are looking for people who have an educational background, training in teaching English as a second language and tutors to help the newcomers.
For people who do want to help, check the RSRS Facebook page to see what is needed. Once the support group knows the clothing sizes of the family members they will be looking for donations.