Syrian family reunited in B.C. after five years apart

It's been five long years filled with doubt and uncertainty, but Campbell River woman Merell Awad has her mother and extended family safely in Canada.

Campbell River resident Merell Awad was reunited with her mother and extended family Tuesday

Merell Awad was reunited with her mother (in wheelchair) and extended family on Tuesday. (Merell Awad)

After five years apart, Campbell River resident and restaurant owner Merell Awad was reunited with her mother and extended family Tuesday.

Awad's family was torn apart by the Syrian Civil War, and struggled merely to get information on the safety and refugee status of the 11 people she was sponsoring to come to Canada.

But yesterday, they arrived at Vancouver International Airport in what Awad described as an emotional reunion.

"It was just, like, overwhelming seeing them after all these years," Awad told All Points West host Robyn Burns. "It was just an amazing meeting. … I was still in shock: is this really happening? I didn't believe until I saw them walking out the door of immigration."

Awad's family's application lingered for several months during the first half of 2016, she says, during which time they were stuck in Lebanon.

She says this was a particular problem for her mother who uses a wheelchair and needs heart medication.

"I was just touching her: she's here, she's alive and we're going to take care of her," Awad said.

Awad says she still has another sister with a family trying to make it to Canada, but she has little information on her and her situation.

She says she has been sending off paperwork in hopes of setting up another happy reunion in Canada, but doesn't know when or if that might happen.

With files from CBC Radio One's All Points West

“It was just an amazing meeting. … I was still in shock: is this really happening? I didn’t believe until I saw them walking out the door of immigration.” (Merell Awad)

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Campbell River woman reunited with family separated by Syrian war