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Syrian refugee family gets help from Iqaluit Catholic parish

Iqaluit residents came together over a pot of chili on Monday and raised more than $1,000 to help sponsor a family of refugees from Syria.

Chili lunch raises money for Ottawa parish's sponsored family

Father Daniel Perreault, pastor at Our Lady of the Assumption in Iqaluit, says the cost of living and lack of housing were the main factors in the parish's decision to help a Syrian family settle in Ottawa instead of Nunavut. (Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC)

Iqaluit residents came together over a pot of chili on Monday and raised more than $1,000 to help sponsor a family of refugees from Syria.

Volunteers from Our Lady of the Assumption Roman Catholic church dished out dozens of bowls of chili at $15 each to help Walid Wajih Al-khouri's family of seven come to Canada and settle in Ottawa.

Currently the family is stuck in Lebanon, but with the sponsorship of Sacré-Coeur parish in Ottawa and help from the parish in Iqaluit they hope to come to Canada soon.

"It's a question of heart," said Daniel Perreault, Our Lady of the Assumption's parish priest.

"Just last autumn, we have seen this flow of refugees from Iraq and Syria. It's something horrible that happened."

Walid Wajih Al-khouri’s family is stuck in Lebanon, but with the sponsorship of Sacré-Coeur parish in Ottawa and help from the parish in Iqaluit they hope to come to Canada soon. (Our Lady of Assumption Roman Catholic church)

The parish decided that helping even one person was a good start. After some research they changed their mind about trying to sponsor a family to come to Nunavut.

​"Try to imagine a little bit, a family of refugees, who are already in big trouble, who are in kind of poverty, who left everything, who live in the south in a tropic zone, to come here in isolated place in the cold, far away from everything, from everybody," said Perreault.

"For me, it's not a service."

Perreault said the isolation was one issue, but the cost of living is another factor that made his parish decide against encouraging a family to settle in Nunavut.

The parish decided that helping even one person was a good start. (Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC)

"The housing issue is a problem for Nunavut that we know already, and just the cost of everything here, how can it help a family who has nothing."

Instead the parishioners settled on partnering with the Ottawa parish to help a family. 

Despite the fact that the family will not be settling in Nunavut, people in Iqaluit want to do their part to help.

"Support people who are in dire need — we're Inuks and that's what we're good at," said Rebecca Mike, a resident who attended the fundraiser.

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