Manitoba

Family thanks searchers scouring Lake Winnipeg for signs of missing newcomer advocate

The family of Nour Ali expressed their thanks to search and rescue crews who are scouring massive Lake Winnipeg for their missing loved one.

Nour Ali has been missing since Saturday; his father Hamsa Ali died after boat capsized three days ago

Concerned people, pictured Sunday, hope for Nour Ali to return after the boat he was in capsized on Saturday. (Travis Golby/CBC)

The family of Nour Ali expressed their thanks to search and rescue crews who are scouring Lake Winnipeg for their missing loved one.

For third day in a row, searchers conducted a grid search of the lake in hopes of finding him. The 42-year-old man went missing and his father, Hamsa Ali, died after the boat they were in capsized on the lake, near Bélair, Man., on Saturday.

A written statement sent by Donovan Toews on behalf of the Darweesh/Ali family expressed their appreciation to those involved in the search and concerned members of the public.

"This is a very difficult time for the family and the community around them – they have asked to convey appreciation for everyone's thoughts, prayers and offers to help, and for the helpful assistance of community members, the RCMP, and other local authorities," reads the statement.

Nour Ali has been missing since the boat he was in capsized on Lake Winnipeg on Saturday. (Wildinette Paul/Radio-Canada)

In the family's statement, Nour and his wife began their journey in their beloved country of Syria, where they fled from in 2006 and 2008. Their travels took them to China and Macao, respectively.

Nour, along with his wife Maysoun Darweesh, 41, and their two daughters, ages 16 and 13, arrived in Winnipeg in 2012.

All members of the family became proud Canadian citizens in 2018, according to the statement.

A dedicated helper

As creator of the Kurdish Initiative for Refugees Inc., Ali was well-known for his dedication to working with newcomers and organizations across faith and cultures.

An outpouring of support on social media demonstrates the impact Nour had on many people during his eight years in Winnipeg, after escaping war and conflict.

Organizations such as Welcome Place, Immigration Partnership Winnipeg and others have been sharing sentimental posts about Nour since he was last seen three days ago.

Hani Alubeady is remembering his friend as a leader of the newcomer community in Canada, which he said is deeply saddened as the search operations go on in hopes of finding Nour.

"I sincerely feel, in the deepest point of my heart, that I am saddened, I am emotional, and I am rather devastated by the news," he said.

Alubeady said Nour's words are equivalent to his actions. He got a job in construction before starting his own business and hiring newcomers, and has helped other refugees flee and arrive in Canada.

"Where is the need for refugees, Nour will be there. If there's a situation that requires assistance, Nour is there. If there is support needed for a family [or] individual in the newcomer population, Nour will be in the heart of it," he said.

WATCH | Third day of searching for newcomer advocate Nour Ali:

Searchers scour Lake Winnipeg for missing man

2 years ago
Duration 2:26
Newcomer advocate Nour Ali went missing Saturday after a boat capsized near Bélair, Man.

Five people on board when boat went under

The search and rescue operation is focused off the shore of Bélair, at the end of the Yellow Brick Road boat launch, between Grand Beach and Victoria Beach.

RCMP said Sunday that five people were on the boat fishing when it took on water and capsized. Three men, aged 37, 48 and 65, were rescued from the water and taken to hospital.

Several people on shore Saturday called 911 and tried to help, police said on Sunday. A 73-year-old man from Winnipeg was later found in the water, taken to shore and pronounced dead. He has since been identified as Nour's father.

Members of the Canadian military, Canadian Coast Guard, RCMP, fire department, paramedics and volunteers took part in the search and rescue operations.

RCMP and others assist in the search for Nour Ali on Sunday. (Travis Golby/CBC)

In an interview Sunday evening, RCMP Sgt. Bob Chabot said windy weather and high waves played a factor in the incident.

Search continues on third day

An experienced searcher with a volunteer crew said high winds and waves on the massive lake are posing challenges.

Darryl Contois of the Evelyn Memorial Search Team said crews are racing against time as a storm threatens to put an early end to the search on Monday.

Darryl Contois of the Evelyn Memorial Search Team was gassing up a boat as he prepared to assist in the search for Nour Ali. (Travis Golby/CBC)

He had borrowed his brother's boat, which he was loading with gas from a Jerry can during an interview with CBC News. He heard about the missing man on social media.

"This is a very big lake, it's not the kind you can just go in and out."

"If you're not trained to go on the lake, stay off the water," he said.

Contois has not spoken with members of the immediate family. He hopes to bring closure to them.

With files from Bartley Kives and CBC/Radio-Canada's Ezra Belotte-Cousineau

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