On December 28, 2015, the cousins of 2-year-old Alan Kurdi — who drowned with his brother and mother while trying to flee Syria — arrived in Canada. Five children between the ages of five months to 16-years-old arrived at Vancouver International Airport, greeted by their aunt Tima Kurdi, who privately sponsored them. The two eldest children, Heveen and Shergo, describe in their own words, the adjustment to life in Canada. 

December 28, 2015: 

What are you looking forward to in Canada?

Heveen Kurdi, 16: "[I want to] study, and start a new life — even if it's going be very simple life. We're not looking for too much, we're not asking for much, [just] a simple life and safe [life] — that's enough for us."

Heveen Kurdi

16-year-old Heveen Kurdi watches a hockey game at UBC with her aunt Tima Kurdi. (CBC News)

Jan. 2, 2016: 

What was your life like before Canada?

Shergo Kurdi: "I had a hard life the last two years. I was just working and struggling [in] my life. I didn't feel like I was a kid but I never showed it to my parents. I couldn't wait until I am in Canada to be a kid again and start my new life."

Shergo Kurdi worked in a factory in Turkey to help support his family.

Tima Kurdi: "He [Shergo] used to iron clothes — standing 12 hours a day, six days a week. Sometimes now he starts making fun, making a joke. He will say 'auntie this is what i used to do.' It's [like] a machine — the way he was [describing] ironing — really, really fast, almost like somebody has a whip on top of his head, [saying] 'don't stop, you are the machine."

Shergo Kurdi

14-year-old Syrian refugee Shergo Kurdi watches a hockey game at UBC on January 29th, 2016. (CBC News)

Jan. 29, 2016: 

What was your first day of school like? 

Heveen Kurdi: "I thought it would be very hard, I was nervous kind of but everyday is getting easier and easier and I like it more and more."

Rocco

Tima Kurdi's husband Rocco Logozzo sits with nephew Shergo Kurdi at a UBC hockey game on January 29th, 2016. (CBC News)

Tima's husband Rocco Logozzo describing the kids adjustment to their new life in Coquitlam, B.C.:

"They're playing hockey outside of the house, they're really taking to it, enjoying it. They're doing skating. They're going to a regular school near the house so they're blending in and they're getting used to Canadian life."

How are you processing the past? 

Heveen Kurdi: "I like to draw. Every time I remember the past, I just take the pen and start [drawing]"

Heveen Kurdi art

16-year-old Syrian refugee Heveen Kurdi likes to draw pictures of the life she remembers in Damascus before the civil war began. (CBC News)


To listen to the full audio, click the link labelled: Alan Kurdi's cousins adjusting to life in Canada.

Clarifications

  • Alan Kurdi was initially reported to be three when he died but now his aunt has confirmed he was two.
    Feb 04, 2016 8:30 AM PT