Syrian refugee celebrates 'amazing' 1st Canada Day in B.C.

Yasin Alhomsi arrived in Vancouver last December after being separated from his father for 15 years and his family is now celebrating their first Canada Day together.

Yasin Alhomsi arrived in Vancouver after being separated from his father for 15 years

Syrian refugee Yasin Alhomsi (far right) celebrates his first Canada Day. He arrived in Vancouver after being separated from his father Mamon Alhomsi (centre) and siblings for nearly 15 years. (Bal Brach/CBC News)

 Yasin Alhomsi is celebrating his first Canada Day in Vancouver with his family after arriving in Canada seven months ago.

"It's amazing," he said while standing in the heart of Canada Place wearing a red and white scarf. "This day is a special day for me."

The Syrian refugee said July 1 will now mark a new tradition in his family where they will go Vancouver's waterfront to celebrate with thousands of others.

"When you see all people celebrating this day, all immigrants — we feel as we are the same as all Canadians."

Last December, Alhomsi and his brother Majd had an emotional reunion at YVR with their father, Mamon Alhomsi, after being separated for 15 years.

Since then, the family has been adjusting to life in Canada.

Alhomsi, who was tortured and imprisoned in Syria, said finding a job and starting school in Canada were dreams come true.

"I had been waiting for this moment for 15 years and now we are here celebrating with Canadians to share their culture and our culture together," he said. 

While proudly waving his maple leaf flag, Alhomsi said being Canadian to him means acceptance and equality.

"I'm working here, I'm studying here, and now I'm celebrating the same days and same events — that means we are all the same and we are all equal in Canada," he said.

"It means you accept all people ... you live in a safe place and you have a stable future."  

About the Author

Bal Brach

@BalBrach

Bal Brach is an award-winning reporter at CBC News Vancouver. She has more than a decade of experience working in television, radio and online news across Canada. Bal's storytelling skills have earned her a Jack Webster Award. She is also the recipient of regional and national Radio Television Digital News Association awards. Bal can be reached at Bal.Brach@cbc.ca or on social media @BalBrach