New Brunswick

Syrian children happy to start first full year of school in Canada

With school just into its second week, the Almohammad children are happy to be adjusting to their new life.

For the first time in 3 years the Almohammad children of Moncton are attending a regular school

12-year-old Alla, left, 9-year-old Raneem, and 4-year-old Yunes started school last week at Moncton's Edith Cavell. (CBC)

The Almohammad children are happy to be going to a regular school for the first time in three years. 

The family fled war-torn Syria and lived in a refugee camp in Jordan before arriving in Moncton at the end of January.

With school just into its second week, the children are adjusting to their new life. Anglophone East School District | Edith Cavell School

"I love it," said 17-year-old Waed Almohammad, who started Grade 11 at Moncton High School in September, along with her 16-year-old sister Ahed.

17-year-old Waed and 16-year-old Ahed say they are liking attending Moncton High School. (CBC)
Three younger children in the family all go to the Edith Cavell School, which is among those that welcomed the most Syrian children in the past few months, taking in as many as 29.

School principal Donna Arsenault said the school, which values multiculturalism, was less than 50 per cent capacity last year, so it happily welcomed Syrian refugees. The Anglophone East School District has allocated the school more resources to accommodate the newcomers.

"We now have a full-time tutor on staff," said Arsenault. "We've also received a teacher who helps our classroom teachers plan and develop best practices in dealing with children who come with no language in English."

The Syrian children all receive two and a half hours of tutoring a week, mostly to work on their English skills.

The Almohammads say it was hard at first with little to no English, but they're eager and learning fast.

"Now it's okay, no problem. I love it," said Waed.

'Moncton's done a wonderful job'

Despite some Syrian families wanting to leave the province, the Almohammads have their heart set on staying in Moncton.

Veronica Carpenter, a volunteer helper with the family, says Syrians in Moncton are very involved in the community, perhaps more than in other cities in New Brunswick.

"They feel very welcome here," said Carpenter. "And the thing is, Moncton's done a wonderful job."

Out of 72 Syrian families that settled in Moncton in recent months, only one has left.

The Almohammads are amongst those feeling the hospitality.

"Every time when we going shopping or to the garden, 'Welcome to Canada, welcome to Canada,' so cute. And always smile," said 14-year-old Alla Almohhamad.