Fort St. James Syrian Refugee Group: determined to make a difference

The Syrian Refugee Crisis continues and members of the Fort St. James Community are determined to do their part.

  • Jan. 27, 2016 1:00 p.m.
Members of the Fort St. James Syrian Refugee Group attended their first meeting on Jan. 23.

Members of the Fort St. James Syrian Refugee Group attended their first meeting on Jan. 23.

Barbara Latkowski

Caledonia Courier

The Syrian Refugee Crisis continues and members of the Fort St. James Community are determined to do their part, to help in some way through this most desperate calamity.

Over 8 million Syrians have been displaced and over 4 million have fled conflict and poverty in hope of finding a better tomorrow elsewhere.

About 25,000 refugees are set to arrive in Canada in 2016. How is Canada helping these families make the transition? Can they adapt to a new community like Fort St. James?

On Jan. 24, a meeting was held in the town library to discuss the opportunity of hosting a family or two from Syria.

Kelly Inden and Fatima Hatamleh facilitated the event that brought out about 20 people who were interested in finding out more.

Hatamleh is from Fort St. James but she and her family are quite familiar with the struggles and challenges of coming to a new country.

Having moved to Canada from Jordon, Hatamleh has visited there since. She has seen the impact this crisis has had in her own country.

“Jordon was the first to open their doors to the Syrians. My own small town has taken in over 600,000 Syrians and this has affected electricity and water availability as well as job security.”

Hatamleh with her husband made the move to Canada in hope for a better future for themselves and their two children.

“We are not refugees but we are immigrants. We wanted a better opportunity in Canada for our kids and we have found it here in Fort St. James,” Hatamleh said.

“It’s so important that people here are taking interest,” she said.

Hatamleh provided clips and information about the current Syrian refugee crisis including the basic journey of a refugee, statistics and the benefits they receive when they arrive in Canada.

Discussion followed as various group members voiced their opinions and ideas.

Father Frank Salmon from Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church is thrilled with the idea of sponsoring a Syrian family.

“We will benefit as a community if we sponsor a family,” Salmon said.

Planning, options and fundraising ideas were discussed and the next meeting date is set for Feb. 2 at 7 p.m. at the Fort St. James Library. All are welcome.

“Bringing up a family in Fort St. James is the best thing we can do because we can then see the difference,” Hatamleh said.

“And it’s all about providing these people with opportunities. That means more to them than anything.”