'It's difficult for us': Syrian family adjusts to life in Victoria

It's been a long journey for Mostafa Ismail and his family, who have been living on Vancouver Island for six months.

In the last year, more than 300 Syrian refugees have settled on Vancouver Island

Mostafa Ismail and his family fled Syria after the violent war spread to their hometown of Idlib — and claimed the life of his father. (Mostafa Ismail)

Six months ago, Mostafa Ismail was living in Turkey after fleeing Syria's violent civil war, which had spread to his hometown Idlib and claimed the life of his father.

"A bomb fell on my house — and my father died quickly," he told host Robyn Burns CBC's All Points West.

His mother, wife and daughter were all home when the explosion went off — and lucky enough to survive with only cuts and scrapes from the shrapnel.

Ismail, 29, now lives in Victoria with his family, after they became sponsored refugees by Canadian government. He says he loves his new home — but the transition has been challenging.

"We are happy here — but I have other brothers and sisters in Turkey, and they are far away," he said. "It's difficult for us."

People inspect a site hit by an airstrike in the rebel-controlled area of Maaret al-Numan town in Idlib province, Syria, September 25, 2016. (Khalil Ashawi/Reuters)

Over the last year, Canada has welcomed over 30,000 Syrian refugees. More than 350 have settled on Vancouver Island, many of whom are also separated from family and friends.

Ismail says the decision to move to Canada — away from his brothers and sisters — was daunting.

"The government is amazing — but it's scary a little bit," he said. "We would go to a country that's very far away, and we don't know the language, and we don't know the country — everything. We don't know anything about here."

He came to the country in March with his wife, daughter, and two-month old son, where he's now a full-time student, taking English classes.

"I have school every day for six hours, and study at home for another two hours," he said, adding that his wife is also studying the language from home.

Still he says although Victoria is very different from Idlib, it does feels like home.

"It looks like the most beautiful city in the world," he said, "It's a small city, but I like the small cities. It's wonderful."

With files from CBC's All Points West

To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: Six months later: Syrian family settles into life on the Island