Nfld. & Labrador

Inspiration for Come From Away character launches book, raises money for Syrian refugees

Kevin Tuerff started his week at a Broadway opening, rubbed shoulders with world leaders on Wednesday, and launched his first book in Gander on Friday.

Kevin Tuerff was stranded in Gander after the events of 9/11

Author Kevin Tuerff gives his book Channel of Peace to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after a performance of Come From Away on Broadway. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Kevin Tuerff started his week at a Broadway opening, rubbed shoulders with world leaders on Wednesday, and launched his first book in Gander on Friday. 

Tuerff was one of nearly 7,000 people stranded in Central Newfoundland in the days following 9/11. He was heading home from Paris when the attacks happened and was left stranded in Gander for nearly a week. 

His story has become part of the Broadway musical Come From Away, which is based on central Newfoundland's compassionate response in the days following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"I've been amazed at some of the great stories that I've heard today," said Tuerff at the signing of his book, Channel of Peace, in Gander.

Tuerff, who also gained media coverage for his Pay It Forward campaign, said he admires the way Canadians came together to help strangers in 2001. 

Now he's using proceeds from his book to help Gander continue its campaign to bring Syrian refugees into the community. 

"There's a lot that we had in common with refugees," Tuerff told CBC News. "Basically a war had broken out, we had no information, we didn't know what was going on."

"We needed food, clothing and shelter, and Gander stepped up when they didn't have to. And I'm hoping that Come From Away, and my book, maybe we can move the needle a little bit to get back to that mentality."

Tuerff gave a copy of his book to Sophie Grégoire Trudeau when she took in Come From Away on Broadway with husband Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this week.

He also took a moment to speak with the prime minister about Canada's compassionate response to the Syrian refugee crisis. 

"I said I want to thank you for how you are handling the refugee situation and I wish that our country would follow your lead."