Community in Saint John rallies to help reunite family separated by Syrian civil war
SAINT JOHN -- Efforts are underway in Saint John, to reunite a family separated by violence and chaos.
Only some of the family members were able to flee the Syrian civil war four years ago.
The Kennebecasis Baptist Church kitchen has been busy with volunteers whipping up a feast for 130 people.
"There's 10 turkeys here and a hundred pounds of potatoes," said organizer David Creelman.
It's all of it part of a special fundraising dinner to help reunite a Syrian family who moved to Saint John four years ago after fleeing the civil war but had to leave part of their extended family behind.
"Both families have gone through stressful times and difficult times and the family here knows the family back in Tripoli is under pressure," Creelman said.
Now, the wheels are in motion for the Alsaj family to join the Hleilos in Canada, with the sponsorship agreement signed last fall.
"This October, they had their interview, their medical, and they passed," said organizer Kendra Ball. "Now we're just waiting for the Canadian embassy to book their flights and send them to Canada."
The guest speaker for the fundraising dinner was New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs, who will talk about the importance of newcomers to New Brunswick.
This summer, the province unveiled their new population growth strategy which includes a goal of attracting 7,500 newcomers a year with a one-year retention rate of 85 per cent by 2024.
"Helping people brings out the best in us and we're getting the best out of the people we welcome to us," Creelman. "And the kinds of difference that's going to make going forward is really significant."
Organizers hoped to raise about $3,000 at the event on Friday evening.
"Ahahad is the sister of the mother of the Hleilos family and she's 25, so she's quite young, so seeing her big sister would mean a lot," Ball said. "It's been four years since they've seen each other and they definitely need the support system."