Extended Somali family hits 100 in Winnipeg
A Somali-born Canadian who has brought 94 members of his family to Canada in the last decade greeted six more in Winnipeg earlier this week.
"We are the lucky family in Manitoba, or I say all of Canada," Marcus Askar told CBC News on Tuesday night as he greeted the most recent six in his extended family to make the trip from the famine-racked country in the Horn of Africa. Askar arrived in Canada 15 years ago.
Some of the newcomers are meeting family members for the first time, while others have not seen each other in years.
With their escape from a country suffering through 20 years of civil war and famine, the Askar children will get a chance to go to school, and that means a lot to the struggling family.
"Their future is bright now. It's gonna be bright as soon as they came to Canada," said Askar's relative, Aputi.
However, the horror they left behind is never far from the Askars' minds.
"As a family we celebrate that family members are coming," Marcus Askar said, "but we are sorry how our people in Somalia are suffering."
Hospitality House Refugee Ministry, a Winnipeg-based charity that helped sponsor the family, says the number of refugees that Canada can accept doesn't come close to meeting demand.
"This year the number is 5,600 and when you look at 11 million refugees worldwide it doesn't go very far," executive director Tom Denton said.
The newest children in Winnipeg's Askar clan had one thing on their mind when they awakened on Wednesday.
"Early this morning, when the children wake, the first question they ask was 'where's the winter, where's the snow?'" Marcus Askar said.
And it looks like the Askar clan will be growing again soon: Rahma Askar, one of the new arrivals, is seven months' pregnant.