Preparations continue as Maritime cities await word on refugee numbers
Published Wednesday, November 25, 2015 3:23PM AST
Last Updated Thursday, November 26, 2015 7:50AM AST
Five Maritime cities are gearing up to receive their quota of the 25,000 Syrian refugees expected to be arrive by the end of February.
The Nova Scotia government estimates the province will welcome 20 to 30 Syrian families in the coming weeks.
Nova Scotia Immigration Minister Lena Diab says she feels a connection with the displaced.
“I've lived through war myself," she said. “I believe it's incumbent on us to take those who are most vulnerable and who are in need of most of our help.”
A number of groups are leading efforts to sponsor refugees with full support of the province.
But Gerry Mills of the Immigration Services of Nova Scotia says Arabic speakers and volunteers are needed.
“Anybody that speaks Arabic can volunteer sometime, please call the 211 number," said Mills.
Fredericton is one of the five Maritime cities to welcome refugees in the coming months. They’ll be receiving their first influx since Kosovo.
The Prince Edward Island Association for Newcomers to Canada will lead the preparations of 250 refugees arriving in the province.
“The wheels are now in motion and we're all getting ourselves prepared for lot of refugees to come into the community and give them a great welcome,” said Diab.
Those working the front lines with refugees say the recent outpouring of goodwill is heartening.
“They need everything,” said Julie Chamagne, executive director of the Halifax Refugee Clinic. “Obviously they need things like housing and adequate health and mental health services, in many cases and schooling for their kids.”
Fadi al-Khatib runs a Syrian restaurant in Dartmouth. He's been serving up Middle Eastern specialties for a few months now, mostly old family recipes.
He says he’s worried about family members back home, including his brother.
“We're trying to get him here now,” said al-Khatib. “He's a refugee as well. He ran away from Syria about two years ago now, and he lives in Egypt.”
He says Canada’s refugee plan has his seal of approval.
“Of course I want more refugees out of there, but for now, let's just see those people come here.”
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko.