Dauphin pulls together resources to help Syrian refugees learn English

Dauphin, Man. is pulling together resources to help three Syrian refugee families who arrived in February learn English.

City bringing in Brandon man who emigrated from Syria to spend three months teaching English

The Suleyman family is one of three Syrian families who resettled to Dauphin, Man. in February. From left to right: Father Riyad, daughters Roha, 14, and Rena, 12, mother Rojin and son Rodi, 8, Suleyman. (Marie Ryz)

The City of Dauphin, Man. is pulling together to help three recently arrived Syrian refugee families learn English.

"That's the real barrier," said Dauphin Mayor Eric Irwin. "We have great public infrastructure in our community but if you want to go to the pool, or the theatre, or the arena… or any of the other things we're so proud of, that make this a great community, you pretty much have to know English so that's sort of the rub."

The community is well-equipped to teach the refugees English, Irwin said.

A Brandon man who emigrated from Syria and will be spending three months helping Syrian families learn basic English. 

"That's the real key — is so that these people can at least form basic communication and then, of course, get on into the workforce," Irwin said. 

Two of the men work in the trades and one is a truck driver. There's a lot of opportunity for tradesmen in the city, Irwin said.

"I'm sure there's a place for their skills," he said. 

With help from the community, three Dauphin churches sponsored the three families, who all have young children entering school. 

"They went way out of their way in order to welcome people from halfway around the world and give them a shot at having a decent life. It's a really heartwarming story," he said.

Overall the city has been welcoming and is building new housing units this year, Irwin said. 

"We've heard stories of people coming down the street and shaking hands and welcoming them and just being very open about having a very warm, welcoming and tolerant attitude," he said. "We're very pleased to see that they've been welcomed so warmly."