'Universal language called love': Syrian refugee family welcomed to Winnipeg

Over the past four days the Ogi Oglan family has had its first experience in Winnipeg’s snow, cold and its welcoming community.

The Ogi Oglan family of 4 arrived on Thursday, just as winter walloped city

Muhammad Ogi Oglan and Kamar Mourad arrived in Winnipeg with their children on Thursday. (CBC)

Over the past four days the Ogi Oglan family has had its first experience with Winnipeg's snow, cold and welcoming community.

The Syrian refugee family of four arrived on Thursday after receiving sponsorship and help from the South Osborne Syrian Refugee Initiative (SOSRI), a group of about 200 volunteers.

Through a translator, Muhammad Ogi Oglan said, even though everything was white when they arrived, they received a warm welcome.

"It's not a problem it's cold … it's a part of life," he said through the translator.

The family had been living in Turkey after fleeing Syria. They said they are excited to call Winnipeg home since they already have family in the city — SOSRI's first two arrivals in October and November are family members of the Ogi Oglans.

After a special service at the Churchill Park United Church, which is a SOSRI partner, the family thanked the community members for all of their help.

"Canada is a very beautiful country. God willing, I will help Canada in the future the way Canada helped me," Muhammad said through the translator.

Currently, the family is staying with John and Marlene Oldham while they get settled. While communication can pose a challenge, phone translation apps are helping.

"We've learned that there is a universal language. A universal language called love. A universal language called friendship. Smiles go a long way," John said.

Sunday also marked one year since Canada welcomed the first group of Syrians that the government flew out of refugee camps. The Liberals promised to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada last winter. To date, more than 36,000 Syrian refugees have been resettled in Canada.