Syrian refugee families arrive in Saskatoon daily

Executive Director Ali Abukar said that around 300 Syrian refugees have already arrived in the city but they expect many more newcomers to call the bridge city their home.

Open Door Society Executive Director expects many Syrian newcomers to call the bridge city their home

The Open Door Society says that around 300 refugees have already arrived in Saskatoon but they expect many more newcomers to eventually call the bridge city home. (Evan Radford/CBC)

There are more than 150 Syrian refugees looking for a place to live in Saskatoon, according to the Open Door Society.

Executive Director Ali Abukar said that around 300 refugees have already arrived in the city, but half are living in temporary locations such as hotels. He said many of them have arrived in the past couple of weeks.

"We're doing all we can and are using different strategies to find those housing availability that's also affordable," Abukar said.

He added that hotels are just temporary living conditions for the moment, and they hope to get them into a house within two weeks. But there are many challenges.

"Sometimes it could be challenging if the family's composition is a bigger one with a lot of family members, and then you have the challenge of finding affordable and available housing for them," he said.

The federal government originally planned to have 800 newcomers from Syria calling the bridge city home. However, it's not clear how many refugees will ultimately end up in the city.

Ali Abukar, executive director of the Saskatoon Open Door Society, says more than 150 Syrian refugees are looking for a place to live. (Victoria Dinh/CBC)

Finding a home is just the beginning of getting refugees settled and the Global Gathering Place is tasked with teaching many people the necessary life skills.

"It's not that people are coming with no skills, it's how do you do it here?" Community Relations Manager Lori Steward said.

Refugees will need to know places to get groceries and how to ride the bus. Even though the winter has felt mild to most, they will also have to learn how to adapt to Saskatchewan's drastic weather when it changes.

Steward added that the Global Gathering Place has also established a refugee health clinic.

"[It] is providing initial assessments to all refugee families, so an assessment with a doctor, lab work, any radiology that needs to be done," she said.

While there is increasing pressure on many of the people trying to make the transition smooth for refugees, Steward is confident the infrastructure is in place.

"They're coming and they will receive support from agencies that are out here and it's good," she said. "It will be ok."


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