'This is my first time trick-or-treating and I love it': Newcomers experience Halloween

32 kids born in countries like Syria, South Africa and Somalia got to experience Halloween in Manitoba, some for the very first time.

Halloween is 'part of becoming Canadian' for new immigrants and refugees

Abdinasir Hussein, 11, went as a man for Halloween this year. (CBC)

Children born in countries like Syria, South Africa and Somalia got to experience Halloween in Manitoba on Monday. For some it was the first time.

Thirty-two kids gathered at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba in downtown Winnipeg Monday evening to get ready for the big day. Many of the newcomers who took part live in transitional housing.

"It's part of becoming Canadian," said IRCOM's Mathew Joseph.

IRCOM is a non-profit organization that provides transitional housing for newcomer families for up to three years after their arrival. It also provides after-school programs, supports and services for children and youth.

"We strive to actually help communities new to Canadian society, and part of that is this culture. The kid gets to experience with other kids, that is why we celebrate these days with kids," Joseph said.

The Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba took more than 30 kids out trick-or-treating on Monday, some for the very first time. 1:38

No costume? No problem

Like many of the kids at the centre on Monday, siblings Aisha and Abdinasir Hussein don't have costumes. To help them get the full Halloween experience, IRCOM volunteers used face paint to draw them a new identity.

"I'm supposed to be joyful as a balloon", said 10-year-old Aisha, who had a yellow and red balloon coloured on her right cheek. 

A moustache was painted above her 11-year-old brothers lip. 

"I'm supposed to be a man," said Abdinasir.

Aisha Hussein, 10, didn't have a costume, so she got her face painted as a balloon for Halloween. (CBC)

Aisha and Abdinasir came to Manitoba in 2013 from Mogadishu, Somalia. Before arriving here they hadn't even heard of Halloween.

"The first time I was like 'Free candy!,'" said Aisha.

"I used to watch TV in my house, and it used to say get ready for Halloween, and 'What is that?' The school explained it to me and I got it," said Abdinasir.

'This is my first time trick-or-treating and I love it'

Once all the kids were ready IRCOM volunteers and employees helped load them into a white van and drove them to the Wolseley area to take them trick-or-treating.

All 32 didn't fit in the vehicle at the same time, so they were divided into three groups. Each group was given an hour to collect their goodies and then taken back to allow the next group to go.

"A lot of families don't have means of transportation, and a lot of members don't know the catchment area very well 'cause its downtown and that kind of thing," said Joseph. "We take them to Wolseley because that neighbourhood knows us very well."

This is eight-year-old Ayad Mabbuye's first Halloween in Manitoba after moving to Canada from South Africa in June. (CBC)

"This is my first time trick-or-treating and I love it," said Ayad Mabbuye, 8 years-old.

He moved to Winnipeg in June from South Africa. Even though he didn't have a costume and carried a plastic bag to collect his goodies, he had no problem getting into the Halloween spirit.

"I don't feel scared of this stuff 'cause they're not real," he said.

"I think Halloween is a good holiday that we all come together as good as a community to, like, just have fun, eat candy and knock as people, meeting new friends and people," said Abdinasir.

About the Author

Caroline Barghout

Reporter, CBC Manitoba

Caroline began her career co-hosting an internet radio talk show in Toronto and then worked at various stations in Oshawa, Sudbury and Toronto before landing in Winnipeg in 2007. Since joining CBC Manitoba as a reporter in 2013, she has won an award for her work on crowded jails and her investigation into Tina Fontaine's death led to changes in the child welfare system. Email: caroline.barghout@cbc.ca