After three years apart, two Syrian sisters have finally been reunited in Vancouver, thanks to a private sponsorship through the Canadian Memorial Church.
"I am so happy, I can't speak," said Nour Ayal, holding back tears.
Before Tuesday's reunion at the Vancouver International Airport, Nour had not seen her sister Dalal Ayal and her two sons, in three years.
"Everyday I am thinking about her," said Nour.
Dalal's husband Ayman —outspoken and critical of the Assad regime — was arrested and imprisoned in August 2014.
According to Dalal, in April of 2015, government officials then gave the family a death certificate, claiming her husband died on February 28, 2015.
Fearing for the safety of her two young sons, Dalal fled to Turkey with her children last May.
Her sister Nour lives in Burnaby and was trying to bring the family to Canada.
"I am so happy because my sister and her kids [are] safe," said Nour. [They have a] new future here now."
Church sponsors Muslim family
The Ayal family reunion was made possible by the Canadian Memorial Church.
It's the first time in decades the Christian church has sponsored a refugee family, according to Reverend Beth Hayward.
"It's time," said Hayward. We do a lot of outreach locally and this is just a wonderful complement to that to try to address what's happening in the world right now."
Nour and her family are Muslim and Hayward said if anything, that difference broadened the view of the congregation.
"You look at how small our world is today, and yet within that, there seems to be a whole lot of fear about people who are different. Every effort we can make to break through that barrier is a really helpful thing."