Syrian family reunited in Fredericton after three years apart
Published Saturday, March 16, 2019 5:16PM ADT
Last Updated Saturday, March 16, 2019 6:40PM ADT
In a reunification that left onlookers speechless, a Syrian family arrived in Fredericton on Friday, welcomed by the other half of their family.
The Al Khlief brothers and their families have been separated for the last three years, after one brought his family to New Brunswick during the winter of 2016 – and the other stayed behind in Syria.
Now a grade seven student at George Street Middle School, Raghad Al Khlief said she could barely stand up as she waited for her aunt and uncle, and four cousins, to get off the plane.
“I don’t know how I’m feeling, I cannot even describe it right now. It’s like all mixed together,” she said.
Raghad’s family came to New Brunswick along with the thousands of Syrian refugees who came to Canada in the winter and spring of 2016. It was around the same time a group of St. Thomas University professors and teachers were looking for a way to help Syrian newcomers.
“As a community we were moved, greatly, by the situation. And we wanted to take action,” said Danielle Connell. “So we weren’t sure what we wanted to do and we were asked if we would help bring part of the Al Khlief family here and we said yes, absolutely.”
The group decided to privately-sponsor the family. They went through years of paperwork and patience, and had help from Fredericton-area MP Matt DeCourcey.
“It was worth every question and every email,” Connell said. “The application went through fine and Immigration was very helpful and efficient and I think they did the best they could to get them here as fast as they could.”
One half of the Al Khlief family had their faces to the window as the plane arrived. Everyone, including onlookers, cheered and clapped for the family of six as they walked into the arrivals area of the Fredericton International Airport.
There were lots of tears and long hugs, as the two families were reunited again.
“Happy, nervous, shaking, everything, like I could feel right now. It’s just…so happy,” Raghad said.
She translated what her uncle, Hammoud, was feeling.
“As much as the whole world,” he said.
Connell said all the Al Khliefs will be living together. Everyone helped in preparing a home for them, collecting everything from pots and pans to a TV.
“It’s the best feeling you can have where you’re doing a good thing, you’re helping people,” she said.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Brown.