Manitoba

Yazidi refugee family celebrates Eid with solemn memories of loved ones

Four years after they were driven from their homes by ISIS, members of the Majo family gathered in Winnipeg to celebrate Eid with traditional food and dancing, while thinking about the ones who couldn't be there.

'I never thought I would see this day'

Fawzea Majo never thought she would be able to celebrate another Eid with her family again after her village was attacked by ISIS militants. (Ahmar Khan/CBC News)

All 10 members of the Majo family gather around a table littered with traditional snacks to celebrate Eid with sombre spirits thinking about the ones that are lost or gone.

A few members of the clan are still lost, or have been killed, after ISIS waged war on them in Iraq, forcing them out of their homes for their beliefs.

As opposed to a traditional Islamic Eid, which ends 30 days of fasting, Yazidis culminate a three-day fast with their celebration, where dancing, laughs and food take centre stage.

For Fawzea Majo, Canada has allowed her ample opportunity to celebrate her religion freely. She didn't imagine being able to celebrate another Eid with her family again.

"I never thought I would see this day, I will be happy again after the other people I've lost are here," she said through a translator.

Majo's sister was captured by ISIS while trying to flee. She's seen family members killed and others remain lost nearly four years after the chaos began. 

The Majo family poses for a photo in front a table of traditional food while celebrating Eid. (Ahmar Khan/CBC News)

For her and the rest of her family, being able to celebrate and take part with the other Yazidi families in the city is a special time. 

"I'm happy about Eid, to celebrate this day, but I'll be happier if the extended family that's left back home was here to celebrate with us today," Majo said.

Carrying on traditions

Hadji Hesso has been overseeing large Yazidi Eid parties in the city for nearly two decades, and believes the joyous occasion is a time to display his community's perseverance and positivity.

"The people that arrived here in Canada lately, that missing every single family the missing member of their family, this is the first moment that they remember them at such a moment," said Hesso, director of the Yazidi Association of Manitoba.

"It's traditional, it's culture, we'll continue. We're strong and we want to keep it."

Hadji Hesso believes celebrating Yazidi Eid is integral to carrying on their tradition. (Ahmar Khan/CBC News)

Hesso believes carrying on traditions is more important that ever for Yazidis, after having been scattered around the globe in the wake of their persecution by ISIS.

"We want to keep the identity and we want to keep it for these children for our next generations to continue on the same path," he said.

Hesso wants to shine a positive light on the Yazidi community, and continue to showcase what they can do, rather than what they've been through.

"A lot of the stories that we've talked about before have been focused on the escape from Syria and from Iraq, from places like that, and moments of terror, but now it's a moment of gratitude and celebration."

Members of the Majo family gather in Winnipeg to end their three-day fast. 1:30