Nfld. & Labrador

Sharing Our Cultures event showcases cultural diversity in N.L.

Young Canadian immigrants from across the province came to St. John's over the weekend for the 18th annual Sharing Our Cultures event at The Rooms.

Syrian refugees, Iraqi immigrants share stories at annual event

Young students like Ethiopia's Ayan Kadir (left) and Naima Ayub, gathered at The Rooms on Sunday to highlight their culture. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

Young immigrants to Newfoundland and Labrador came together this past weekend in St. John's and shared stories about what it's been like to find another home.

The 18th annual Sharing Our Cultures event at The Rooms gave students from countries like Syria, Ethiopia, and Iraq the opportunity to highlight proud moments from their culture and talk about new experiences that come with living in this province.

Tarah Salah came to St. John's from Iraq over seven years ago. She will graduate this year from Holy Heart of Mary High School.

Tara Salah, an Iraqi immigrant from Baghdad, said that she wanted to showcase a moment of hope from her home country. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

She used the event to battle misconceptions about her country that have spread through policies like the now-reversed travel ban on Iraq initiated by U.S. President Donald Trump. 

"I felt betrayed [by the ban], in a certain way, but it made me feel really happy knowing that Canada wasn't part of it," said Salah

She said she appreciated the support of people in Canada who spoke out against the ban and is glad to live in a place that preaches tolerance. 

"I always say this to every single person who comes to Newfoundland ... when you come to Newfoundland, you've probably found your home."

New refugees adapting to life in N.L.

While Salah has been in Canada for much of the last decade, many immigrants who participated in the event have only come to the country in recent years.

Syrian refugee Ahmed Al-Sheikh, 17, arrived here last June and is quickly getting adjusted to his new surroundings.

"St. John's is a very, very beautiful place to live and I like it so much," he said. 

Syrian refugees Ahmed Al-Sheikh (right) and Mohamed Alsharif discuss the contributions of astronaut Muhammed Faris at the Sharing Our Cultures event at The Rooms on Sunday. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

Al-Sheikh hopes to finish high school and enroll in university to study something he couldn't pursue back home in Syria — journalism. 

"I'm doing some courses to [help] me have the opportunity to be able to be a journalist in the future," he said.

"I want to cover the truth ... because sometimes something happens and [people] don't know about that. " 

From left to right: Syrian immigrants Tasneem Aless, Basma Alfaoury, Rama, and Marwa Askar pose in front of a booth dedicated to Syrian swimmer Yusra Mardini. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

With fellow refugees Ibrahim Aless and Mohamad Alsharif, Al-Sheikh used his burgeoning journalism skills to highlight the story of another displaced countrymen — Syria's first astronaut Muhammed Faris.

Looking around his booth, as fellow immigrants from places like Iraq, Eritrea, and France kicked around a soccer ball and got acquainted with each other, Al-Sheikh remarked on the staggering diversity on display at the event.  

"It's amazing to see all [these] cultures in one place."


Andrew Sampson is a journalist with CBC News in St. John's.