Rally for Syrian refugees draws large support in St. John's

Hundreds took to the streets of downtown St. John's on Sunday, calling on the Canadian government to open its borders to more Syrian refugees.
(CBC/Laura Howells)
More than 150 people took to the streets of downtown St. John's on Sunday, calling on the Canadian government to open its borders to more Syrian refugees.
(CBC/Laura Howells)

The demonstration was one of several events happening around the country this week, after images of a drowned Syrian toddler focused the world's attention on the plight of millions of refugees.

"The image circulating shocked people, and this is emblematic of a bigger issue," said Jon Parsons, who organized the Refugees Welcome rally.

"This is a big problem, it's a big issue, it's a global issue. And Canada needs to do more to fulfill its responsibility on the global stage."

Eyad Sakkar called on the Canadian government to make it easier for refugees to find a safe home in Canada. (CBC/Laura Howells)

So far Canada has accepted nearly 2,500 Syrian refugees and has pledged to take in 10,000 over a three year period. 

The rally featured several speakers, including Syrian-born Eyad Sakkar.
Eight-year-old Ghona Alwanzee (pictured left) was born in Syria. She demonstrated at the rally with her friend Amelia Clarke (right). (CBC/Laura Howells)

Sakkar said he's been so distraught by images of war-torn Syria that he hasn't been able to watch the news for years.

He found the photographs of three-year-old of Alan Kurdi devastating.

"The picture of the kid on the shore, face down, broke my heart. I cried and cried and cried. And still every time I look at it, I can't stop crying," said Sakkar.

"These people need your help. The will is there, all of you I'm sure you can help. But the government has to make it accessible for all of us."

(CBC/Laura Howells)

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