Nfld. & Labrador

A thankful Christmas for a Syrian refugee family in Gander

A family in Gander has a lot to be thankful for this year, as they spend their first Christmas out of a war zone and in Canada.
Omar Alsayed Ali and Sooad Masri visited the Central Morning Show studio in Gander to talk about their first Christmas in Newfoundland. (Julia Cook/CBC)

A family in Gander has a lot to be thankful for this year, as they spend their first Christmas out of a war zone and in Canada.

Omar Alsayed Ali and Sooad Masri are Syrian refugees who came to Gander in June. They visited the Central Morning Show studio this week with a translator.

"She feels like they're safe now, but all they wish is for the people who were left behind to be safe," the translator said for Masri.

"She's thankful that they found a country that took them in from the start."

First Christmas in Canada

The family was privately sponsored by a Gander outreach program to immigrate to Newfoundland. Now, there are four families from Syria who are adjusting to life in the central Newfoundland town.

"Everything is beautiful, the playing in the snow, but the only thing is, it's too cold," said Alsayed Ali through the translator.

Alsayed Ali and Masri arrived with their family in late June. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

Alsayed Ali and Masri have three children who take part in school concerts and like to build snowmen. This is the first time the family is celebrating Christmas at home.

"They take the kids out and they make them see the lights and everything because they're really enjoying it," said the translator for Alsayed Ali.

The family has already trimmed their tree and will invite another Syrian refugee family over on Christmas Day for a traditional Syrian meal.

Worried about family in Syria

Alsayed Ali and Masri said this December is a stark contrast to past years. They are originally from Aleppo, which  is currently being evacuated.

"Enough is enough. All they want for the people in Aleppo is to be safe," said Alsayed Ali through the translator.

Enough is enough. All they want for the people in Aleppo is to be safe.- Omar Alsayed Ali, through a translator

The Syrian refugee family is thankful to be away from the conflict this holiday season.

"They wish all the best to Canadians," they said through the translator.

"Thankful for all the people who brought them over from the war."

About the Author

Julia Cook

Journalist

Julia Cook reports from CBC's bureau in Gander, primarily for the Central Morning Show.

With files from the Central Morning Show

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