Calgarians react to Vancouver Syrian refugee attack
Syrian refugee in Calgary says her family left hell for paradise
As volunteers continue the work of collecting donations for Syrian refugee families in Calgary, some are saddened by attacks on refugees in Vancouver, saying, that is not who we are as Canadians.
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A crowd of refugees attending a welcome event at the Muslim Association of Canada Centre in Vancouver was pepper sprayed by an unknown man on a bicycle Friday evening.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the attack on Twitter, as did Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.
Yvonne Spies, a volunteer at a refugee donation centre in Calgary, was disappointed in the attack which Vancouver police are calling a hate crime.
"Those kinds of things really sadden me, that speaks to what we are as Canadians," Spies said.
"It speaks to the very issues that have brought me as a volunteer to the refugee centre here. This whole issue of division in our society, the whole idea of looking at externalities and the difference between us rather than the humanness that we share, that binds us together."
Souad Alnouri is a refugee who arrived in Canada with her family about three weeks ago.
"We are very sad to hear this, this is wrong," Alnouri said through a translator.
But Alnouri says, she has not experienced that same hate here in Calgary.
"We felt very happy and very welcomed by the government and by the people," she said.
"My kids are very happy, they say we left hell and came to paradise."
For Spies, it's about sending a message both to the person who committed the Vancouver attack, and to refugees.
"I hope that these people understand that that is not what the majority of Canadians feel about them coming here," Spies said.
She says the work done by volunteers in Calgary, Vancouver and across Canada has value on at least two levels.
"What we are doing here is practical and profound," Spies said.
"We are finding them shelter, we are finding them rice and lentils and beds and can openers. But we are also saying, this is who we are as a country, this is what Canada is."
With files from Kate Adach