Nfld. & Labrador

Living in a 'dream': Syrian grandmother lands in Newfoundland

Talika Morjan, a Syrian grandmother who finished a 4,500 kilometre journey to the island on Thursday, says she's blown away by the first hours of her new life in her new home.
Talika Morjan, left, told CBC Radio's On the Go she was "very, very, very happy" to be in Canada. (CBC)

The wet, rainy shores of Newfoundland are being embraced 'like a dream' by the eldest member of a Syrian family seeking refuge in the province.

Talika Morjan, a Syrian grandmother who finished a 4,500 kilometre journey to the island on Thursday, says she's blown away by the first hours of her new life in her new home.

Grandmother Talika Morjan speaks with Maggie Gillis. 14:36

"I'm very, very, very happy," she told CBC Radio's On the Go, through her translator Naz Faidullah.

On Friday morning, her first full day in Canada, she headed to a grocery store.

"[It's] something amazing."

"More than [I] could imagine," she said. "A dream."

Lewisporte Bound

Morjan is the first of her family to arrive in Newfoundland. Her son, daughter-in-law and their two children are hoping to join her in Lewisporte, their final destination.

The family will be staying with Reverend Stephanie McClellan, a United Church minister in the town, who renovated a basement apartment to suit the newcomers.

"It's just a beautiful, beautiful apartment," McClellan said.  "A lovely, big space with a separate kitchen and two bedrooms...and the community came together in fantastic ways to bring in all the furniture."

McClellan, who met Morjan at the airport on Thursday, said the entire town of Lewisporte has been stepping up to welcome the new residents.

They've even started taking Arabic lessons, and learned to spin a few Newfoundland phrases into their new language.

Leaving Lebanon

Morjan's new digs stand in sharp contrast with the refugee camp where she used to live in Lebanon and what might remain of her home in Syria.

She said she spent most of the last four years in a one-room dwelling, with a leaking ceiling, and no consistent source of electricity. 

That's the dream, just to reunite with the son- Naz Faidullah

"It's a very hard life," she said through her translator. "From the first point that [we] left everything suddenly, [we] didn't have no time for pack or take anything.

Because her refugee application was processed apart from the rest, her family is still stuck in that room in Lebanon.

Faidullah — who lives in Lewisporte herself — said Morjan is worried about her son, a painter who's no longer legally able to work, and isn't getting any sponsorship. That's making it tough on his family to lead a normal life.

"So that's the dream, just to reunite with the son," Faidullah said.

'Nobody can imagine what is Canada'

The family will be staying with Reverend Stephanie McClellan, right, a United Church minister in the town, who renovated a basement apartment to suit the newcomers. (CBC)

There's no firm date set for the family's arrival to Newfoundland, though sponsor McClellan hopes it will happen soon.

In the meantime, McClellan and Faidullah say the plan is to introduce Morjan to life in Canada, and integrate her into her new surroundings.

"When you say Canada, nobody can imagine what is Canada and what is the distance," Morjan said through her translator.

But she's already been told about the colder winters, which she says will be no problem.

"She is more than thankful for what have been done, and I'm a witness there," Faidullah said.

"I think she's going to be thankful all her life."

With files from On the Go