Manitoba

Kurdish brother, sister reunite in Winnipeg after fleeing Syria

Nour Ali stood at the bottom of the escalator at the Winnipeg airport and cried as he saw his sister, Shler, for the first time in 10 years.

Nour Ali and Shler Ali cry during reunion in Winnipeg airport

Nour Ali (left) and his sister Shler (fifth from left) reunite after conflict in Syria separated them for a decade. (Nour Ali/Submitted to CBC)

Nour Ali stood at the bottom of the escalator at the Winnipeg airport and cried as he saw his sister, Shler Ali, for the first time in 10 years.

The Kurdish siblings who fled Syria were reunited last week after 10 years of war, struggle and hardship.

"Family means everything. When you have family you feel safe; you feel something different. I've been without family for the last 10 years," Nour said.

Family films Nour Ali reunite with his sister Shler at Winnipeg's airport

6 years ago
Duration 1:57
Nour Ali stood at the bottom of the escalator at the Winnipeg airport and cried as he saw his sister, Shler, for the first time in ten years.

Nour left Syria in 2006 and ended up in Manitoba with his wife and two daughters just over five years ago, after spending time in refugee camps in China and Macao.

"We are here, we get new family coming and we hope to get more family," Nour said. "It's been very hard for anybody if he didn't see his family for 10 years. It's not easy."

Nour, working with Mennonite Central Committee Canada, got private sponsorship for Shler, her husband and their five-year-old daughter. For her family, Winnipeg is a dream they've been holding on to since fleeing Syria in 2012.

"They were bombing my region. My husband had to be in the armed service, so we had to flee away to Iraq," she said.

Nour Ali (left) embraces his brother-in-law. (Nour Ali/Submitted to CBC)
At first it seemed unlikely Shler's family would make it to Canada. Shler said they "were working really hard just to survive day by day."

Last summer she found out they would be able to emigrate, and last week the family arrived.

"It really was like a dream for me and my husband to be in Canada," Shler said.

Shler and Nour said reuniting was amazing, and seeing their children connect and bond was very meaningful.

"The first day when they arrived, they all slept together in one bed, and they stay together; it was too exciting," Nour said.

They are still working to reunite with other family members. Their parents and one sister are in Syria, two siblings are in Germany and another brother is a refugee in Turkey.

For now, they appreciate having only a few blocks between them rather than an ocean.

"We are so excited, a lot of, we say, happiness tears," Nour said.

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