Abbotsford welcomes dozens of refugees

More than 100 children among 23 Syrian families to call city home.

Twenty-two refugee families were welcomed to Abbotsford earlier this week and are now adjusting to life in the community they will call home.

The families, who entered the country through Canada’s government-assisted refugee program, are larger than first expected and include more than 100 children aged 17 and under, according to Donna Lo, manager of settlement services with Abbotsford Community Services (ACS), which has a contract to help the refugees during their first two weeks here.

The refugees are currently staying in a local hotel, and Lo said their first few days here have seen them dealing with the large amount of paperwork needed to set up life in a new country.

The children, meanwhile, have been taking part in youth activities to keep them busy. Few of the refugees – who are all originally from Syria but were previously living in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan – speak any English, but ACS is employing five Arabic speakers to help the new arrivals. ACS has also set aside a designated room in the hotel for prayers.

The BC Muslim Association has also been heavily involved in helping settle the families, providing welcoming baskets with food, toiletries and other essentials, along with volunteers who have helped with transportation and other necessities.

Prior to the refugees’ arrival, ACS hadn’t known many details about the 22 families set to arrive in the city this week. The fact that they are large families, with 160 people in total, including 112 children, has limited some housing options. Families will be shown prospective homes over the next week.

“We want to give them a choice, but at the same time it’s going to be hard,” she said.

That complicating factor aside, Lo said ACS has received substantial support from the community, and especially from the local Muslim association.

Other faith groups, both Christian and Sikh, have also been of great assistance, according to Imam Islam Ullah at the BC Muslim Association. The school district will also soon be registering the 86 children who will start attending classes in Abbotsford.

Government-assisted refugees are pre-screened abroad before being admitted to Canada, where the federal government covers the costs of their first year in the country.

Islamullah said the refugees have been vocal in their desire to make Abbotsford their home, and many are educated with skills that should allow them to find work.

“They want to be independent, they’ve been very clear on that,” he said. “I’m fully confident that they will be able to integrate into society very well.”

 

Just Posted

WIND WARNING: Metro Vancouver expecting 100 km/h gusts Saturday night

Environment Canada issues warns of possibly dangerous conditions

VIDEO: Remember the Voyageurs at Fort Langley

Two-day historical festival underway

Fraser Health asking taxpayers for millions more in health care capital funding

Health authority wants Fraser Valley taxpayers to triple annual contribution to $5.75 million

Guilty plea issued in case where man, 86, was assaulted and robbed

Hughie Stump pleads guilty to break-and-enter in relation to Abbotsford incident

UPDATE: 24-year-old Lovepreet Dhaliwal ID’d as victim in targeted Abbotsford shooting

Location of shooting the same as where innocent bystander Ping Shun Ao killed in 2015

Mom delivers plastic mats to Langley’s homeless

Jenifer Kosman fashions sleeping mats from plastic grocery bags

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Snow warning in effect for the Coquihalla

A snowfall warning is in effect from Hope to Merritt as slush and snow is expected on highways this weekend

Vancouver hoping free public Wi-Fi expansion will drive tourism dollars

Mayor Gregor Robertson says expansion bolsters its “leading Smart City” status

Liberals’ 2-year infrastructure plan set to take 5: documents

Government says 793 projects totalling $1.8 billion in federal funds have been granted extensions

Workers shouldn’t be used as ‘pawns’ in minimum wage fight: Wynne

Comments from Kathleen Wynne after demonstrators rallied outside Tim Hortons locations across Canada

Most Read