Syrian Armenian refugees welcomed with mass and meal in Outremont church
Meet-and-greet with local Armenian community a chance to integrate and get advice
At a Montreal church, 300 Syrian Armenians who left everything behind as refugees were treated to a bit of familiar comforts, and a chance to meet the local community.
The St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Cathedral in Outremont held a special mass and lunch to welcome the newest members of its Diaspora in Montreal on Sunday.
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"This opportunity is one way to get to know each other, and talk to each other, and see how we can help them, what can be done for them," said Varouj Margossian, parish committee counsellor.
The church is part of the Diocese of the Armenian Church of Canada, which has co-sponsored more than 1,000 Syrian Armenian refugees, and will support new applications.
It took three days to prepare the food to feed the newcomers. Help came in other forms, like practical advice, a kind word, or marriage arrangements.
"A lady wants to get married and she was asking me where she can apply and what kind of papers are required, so we even found a witness to attend the wedding," Margossian said.
The wife-to-be is Jeanette Shahinian, who hopes to tie the knot within weeks.
"I'm lucky to be here. I'm lucky to live here and to marry here," she said.
It was a common sentiment at the church. While anti-immigrant protests in Germany and a pepper-spray attack against refugees in Vancouver made the news, those at the lunch felt safe and welcome.
"They don't say 'you're immigrants, I can't help you, I can't do that'," said Antranik Kabangyan, one of the newcomers. "I think Canadian people are always good. I see good help from Canadian people."